Yankees’ talent will trump Phillies second title shot

Alex Entz/Senior Writer

So it’s come to this: after an inning where the bunt proved to be the unlikely downfall of the Angels, the New York Yankees won the AL Pennant, and the matchup now sits as the defending champions in the Philadelphia Phillies versus the always-dreaded Yankees. Breaking out of baseball’s age of parity comes this matchup, where the Yankees are seeking to prove that $450 million spent in the offseason can buy a championship.

And let me be honest: the Yankees will win this World Series; their streak of championship-less years will stop at eight.

The edge in starting pitching appears to go to the Yankees. Their ace, CC Sabathia, has been a dominant force in the postseason, throwing up a 1.19 ERA while seeming downright unhittable at times. Behind him comes the erratic yet effective Burnett (owner of one of the game’s best curveballs) and then Pettite, a big-game pitcher who kicks it up an extra notch in the postseason. Pettite has in particular been a postseason force; he owns the record for most postseason wins and also sports an ERA just a shade over 2 for this 2009 ALDS and ALCS. I saw Pettite pitch and blow the wind out of Twins fans, his calculating dominance doing just as much as the “foul” call on that infamous Joe Mauer fly to knock the season upside-down for the Twins. Truly the unheralded ace up the Yankees’ sleeve, he kept the Metrodome uncharacteristically silent.

Not that the Phillies have a rotation to scoff at. Cliff Lee (0.74 ERA) has been the best in the postseason so far, and he will take the ball in Game One at Yankee Stadium. Following him will be Pedro Martinez, which will undoubtedly bring spontaneous recollections of his violent feuds with the Yankees in years past. Older but still fiesty and unafraid to pitch inside, Pedro could potentially follow Lee with a shutdown performance of his own. But beyond that, it gets hazy — Cole Hamels has been weak and the Phillies haven’t yet tipped their hands as to whether phenom J.A. Happ or Joe Blanton will get the call — or if Lee will work on short rest.

The Phillies showed they can slug with the best of them when they absolutely punished the hapless Dodgers pitchers in the NLCS. In that five-game affair, nearly the entire Phillies lineup was hitting, especially Ryan Howard, the huge lefty. The lineup, simply put, has no holes; pitching around the bottom can come back to hurt when the steady salvo of the middle of the order comes up.

Nonetheless, the Yankees possess the firepower and the moxie to put away the Phillies. While the Yankees can be shut down given good pitching, the sudden emergence of A-Rod as a legitimate postseason hitter should generate enough RBIs and RBI opportunities to give the Bronx Bombers a legitimate top of the order. And while the Phillies are matched up with good starting pitching, the Yankees will be seeing good front-line starters but then a mix of a suspect bullpen and weak starters serving in clean up roles. This lack of continuity in pitching will doom the Phillies.

The Yankees middle relief has been quite hittable; Joba Chamberlain has lost eight mph off his heater since his days of lore, and Phil Hughes seems to have lost steam. Nevertheless, with the un-hittable Mariano Rivera capable of two innings and starters with enough stamina to go seven, games get increasingly shortened. Thus, the Yankees just need to scrape an inning or two (barring extras) from their middle guys to get by, and that is quite doable.

Both teams match up quite well. Both teams have this experience under their belts; the Phillies having been here last year while the Yankees’ core still remembers the days of their dynasty.

Nevertheless, the Derek Jeters of the Yankee world just have too much of that indubitable, inherent “it” quality to lose this one. Yankees in six.
And for the small market fans out there: just five months to April.

Class of 2014

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