Friday, December 19, 2014

Game 6 Breakdown, Victorino Update, Don't Expect Line-up Change

Charlie Manuel just finished briefing the media on the state of its team as it prepares for Game 6 tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium.

Game 6 Breakdown, Victorino Update, Don't Expect Line-up Change

J.A. Happ (left) and Cliff Lee travel down the escalator at 30th Street Station to board a train to New York for Game 6 of the World Series. (Sarah J. Glover/Staff Photographer)
J.A. Happ (left) and Cliff Lee travel down the escalator at 30th Street Station to board a train to New York for Game 6 of the World Series. (Sarah J. Glover/Staff Photographer)

Charlie Manuel just finished briefing the media on the state of its team as it prepares for Game 6 tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium.

Shane Victorino, who injured his finger in the third inning of Game 5 after being hit with a pitch, was examined by team doctors today in Philadelphia. There is no fracture, but the finger remains swollen, and Victorino's status for Game 6 is up in the air. If Victorino can not play, Manuel said Ben Francisco would likely play center field. That means Manuel would have to find somebody else to DH, likely Eric Bruntlett, the only other right-handed bat on the bench.

Also, Manuel said he does not expect to change the line-up he has used throughout the postseason, despite the 0-for-9, six-strikeout performance of his trio of lefty sluggers against Andy Pettitte in Game 3.

So this is where we stand:

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For a team that two days ago found itself facing a 3-1 deficit after a heart-breaking loss in the World Series, the Phillies find themselves in as fortunate of a position as they could have hoped for heading into Game 6. Yankees manager Joe Girardi just confirmed what most people assumed, that veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte will start tomorrow on three days' rest against veteran righthander Pedro Martinez.

Here are some key points to watch as the Phillies fight to keep their season alive:

I. Pettitte on Three Days' Rest

Pettitte has plenty of experience pitching on short rest. In 14 regular season starts, he is 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA. But Pettitte's career numbers don't provide an accurate barometer for tomorrow, since he is 37 years old and hasn't pitched on three days rest since 2006. Besides, those 14 starts occurred in the regular season, not in the high-tension atmosphere that is the playoffs, not against what is supposed to be the best team in the National League.

The last time Pettitte pitched on three days' rest in the postseason was in 2003, when he  hurled a masterpiece against the Marlins in Game 2 of the World Series, allowing one unearned run on six hits and one walk while striking out seven in 8 2/3 innings of a 6-1 win. He threw 111 pitches that night, four days after he started Game 6 of the ALCS against Boston and allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings while throwing 92 pitches.

But Pettitte's three other postseason starts on short rest provide a mixed bag:

  1. 2000 ALDS: 3.2 IP, 5 R, 10 H after throwing 108 pitches four days earlier.
  2. 1997 ALDS: 6.2 IP, 4 R, 6 H after pitching five innings four days earlier.
  3. 1996 ALCS: 8.2 IP, 2 R, 3 H after throwing 121 pitches four days earlier.

So you have one bad start, one great start, and one so-so start.

Similarly, Pettitte's most recent regular season starts on short rest show a variety of results:

  1. 9/30/06 - W, ATL, 5-4: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 79 pitches after throwing 96 pitches in 6 2/3 innings of a 7-4 win over the Pirates four days earlier
  2. 6/03/06 - L, CIN, 7-5: 6 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 109 pitches after throwing 87 pitches on four days earlier.
  3. 8/01/06 - W, SDP, 1-0: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0ER, 2 BB, 8 SO, 104 pitches after throwing 13 pitches of relief on July 28 against the D-Backs.
  4. 07/19/01 - L, DET, 11-2: 4 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO, 78 pitches after throwing 109 pitches in seven innings against the Phillies on July 15.
  5. 06/29/00 - W, DET, 8-0: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SS, 125 pitches after throwing 121 pitches in 5 1/3 innings against the White Sox on June 25.

So in the last nine years, you have two bad starts and two great, with a fairly irrelevant great start against the Padres seeing as though he wasn't making back-to-back starts on short rest.

Some other things to consider:

  1. Not only is Pettitte making his first start of the season on short rest, but he hasn't even started on normal rest since Sept. 5, 2009. Each of his starts since then have been on five or more days of rest.
  2. Pettitte threw 104 pitches in Game 3, allowing four runs on five hits and walking three in six innings.

II. Time for a line-up change?

Manuel essentially said today that he would not mess with the order of his line-up, except to account for the addition of a designated hitter. Manuel has used the same order in all 12 postseason games played in National League parks, and he doesn't intend to change. Lefty sluggers Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard went a combined 0-for-9 with six strikeouts off of Pettitte in Game 3. But Manuel said he does not intend to move Jayson Werth, who hit two home runs off of Pettitte, to third as he has occasionally done in the past.

"Utley hit in the two hole, but Utley is hitting lefties right now," Manuel said. "I kind of look at our line-up if you stop and think about what it is. I've messed with it before. Utley has hit second and I put Victorino down sixth and Jayson Werth up in the three hole before, but I don't want to do that. I think especially if we're going to play Ibanez, I like Werth standing in between Howard and Ibanez."

If Manuel did opt for a line-up change, here is one he might consider -- assuming, of course, that Victorino is healthy enough to play.

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Chase Utley, 2B
  3. Jayson Werth, RF
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Shane Victorino, CF
  6. Raul Ibanez, LF
  7. Ben Francisco, DH
  8. Pedro Feliz 3B
  9. Carlos Ruiz C

III. The Yankees' bullpen

The one argument against a line-up change would be the possibility of Pettitte leaving the game early and turning things over to the bullpen, which features talented righties in Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera.

If Pettitte has a real short outing, the Phillies could see righthander Chad Guadin, who was the other option to start Game 6.

Gaudin hasn't started a game since late September and has thrown just one inning this postseason.

Here are the Phillies' numbers against him:

Ibanez: 7-for-18, 4 XBH, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO
Feliz: 2-for-8, 1 RBi, 1 BB, 2 SO
Stairs: 3-for-6, 2 XBH, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Dobbs: 2-for-2, 1 XBH
Werth: 0-for-1, 1 BB, 1 SO
Francisco: 1-for-1
Utley: 1-for-1
Bako, Bruntlett, Howard, Rollins, Ruiz, all 0-for-1
 

^

Turns out, the Yahoo! Sports report of a confrontation between Brett Myers and Cole Hamels was slightly exagerated. FoxSports.com insider Ken Rosenthal witnessed it and wrote on his web site that he took it as the two players joking around. Phillies' Director of Communications Greg Casterioto was also there and told a similar story. Myers might have rubbed Hamels the wrong way with his joke, but it doesn't appear to be indicative of friction in the clubhouse.

Instead, it appears to be business as usual. Before Myers and Hamels' interaction, center fielder Shane Victorino good-naturedly ribbed Hamels about his now famous quote hoping the season would end, threatening bodily harm in the process. Hamels told Victorino, who injured his finger during the game, that he wasn't scared: "You've only got one arm."

 

 

 

 

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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