I spent a good deal of this morning walking around the Phillies clubhouse asking various players about potential match-ups against the Rays and the Red Sox. All of them watched last night's game, when Boston overcame a seven-run seventh-inning deficit, and all were as amazed as you no doubt were.
Frankly, I knew the Red Sox were going to win. I was sitting there watching the game with my computer on my lap, telling anybody who would listen "You know, this thing isn't over. The Red Sox can still win this game." I'm not sure who posted that entry on this blog looking at the Phillies-Rays match-ups, but it definitely wasn't me.
Regardless, here's the question: Who would you rather face if you were the Phillies?
I don't have an answer. Regardless of how dangerous the Rays are on paper, I think you have to hope for Tampa Bay. They present a ton of match-up problems. Particularly dangerous is their speed on the base paths.
The Rays led the majors with 142 stolen bases with a 73.4 percent success rate. The Phillies allowed 109 stolen bases this season, 10th most in the majors. Opponents had a 76.2 percent succss rate against them.
But Boston is Boston. They know what it takes to win the World Series. They have battle-tested pitching and plenty of power.
Either way, the road will be difficult.
Rich Dubee said today he "hasn't even thought about" the playoff rotation for the World Series.
"Haven't even thought about it?" I said.
"Haven't put it on paper yet," he said.
The Phillies know what they are going to do, but they aren't going to tell us today. There is a school of thought that suggests the Phillies will consider starting Joe Blanton or Jamie Moyer in Game Two, so Myers could pitch at home in Game 3 and then be available for Game 7. But I don't buy it at all. Sure, Myers home/road splits suggest he is a much better pitcher at Citizens Bank Park. And sure, in an ideal world you don't want Blanton or Moyer pitching Game 7. Truth be told, though, I don't think the Phils will be thinking about getting this thing over in seven. Their best shot is having Myers and Hamels dominate four of the first six games.
If you really want Myers pitching at Citizens Bank Park, the more likely scenario in my mind is starting Myers in Game One and and Hamels in Game Two. That way, Myers would pitch Game 5 at home.
Here's another option:
Start Hamels in Game 1 and Myers in Game 2, then bring back Myers on short rest for Game 5 in Philly. That way, four of the first five games are started by either Hamels or Myers. In addition, Myers would at least be an option to pitch in Game 7 on short rest.
UPDATE: Manager Charlie Manuel said Saturday that the Phillies will stick with the rotation they used in the first two rounds. That means Hamels in Game 1, Myers in Game 2, Moyer in Game 3 and Blanton in Game 4.
In other news, Ryan Howard is a finalist for the NL Player of the Year in the Players' Choice voting.
Here are the ballots:
Outstanding Player: Josh Hamilton (Texas), Justin Morneau (Minnesota), Dustin Pedroia (Boston)
Outstanding Pitcher: Roy Halladay (Toronto), Cliff Lee (Cleveland), Francisco Rodriguez (LA Angels of Anaheim)
Outstanding Rookie: Mike Aviles (Kansas City), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Alexei Ramirez (Chicago)
Comeback Player of the Year: Josh Hamilton (Texas), Cliff Lee (Cleveland), Troy Percival (Tampa Bay)
Outstanding Player: Ryan Howard (Philadelphia), Chipper Jones (Atlanta), Albert Pujols (St. Louis)
Outstanding Pitcher: Tim Lincecum (San Francisco), CC Sabathia (Milwaukee), Brandon Webb (Arizona)
Outstanding Rookie: Geovany Soto (Chicago), Edinson Volquez (Cincinnati), Joey Voto (Cincinnati)
Comeback Player of the Year: Jorge Cantu (Florida), Fernando Tatis (NY Mets), Kerry Wood (Chicago)
Player of the Year: Cliff Lee (Cleveland), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Manny Ramirez (LA Dodgers)
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Derek Jeter (NY Yankees), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Michael Young (Texas)