2008 World Series Preview: Rays vs. Phillies

The Phillies have lost to every other team in our division in the World Series, so let's hope it's our turn. Much like us, they have relied on a very good bullpen, good defense, and a balanced offensive attack to get where they are. Unlike us, their rotation is top-heavy, their lineup is top-heavy, and their bullpen is top heavy.

My best RJ impression (I.E. I cut and pasted this from his ALCS preview): Preface: all stats are either wOBA or tRA provided by StatCorner. Defensive numbers provided by Justin. All other stats courtesy of FanGraphs and THT.

The Phillies rely on their studs to carry them. They will likely need Hamels to win both his starts for them to sniff a World Series Championship. They will need Lidge to be as good as he's been all year. They will need at least three of their key bats (Utley, Rollins, Howard, or Burrell) to have a good series.

Let's take a look at a large portion of the roster:

LHP Cole Hamels (3.88) Hamels has been great thus far in the postseason surrendering just 3 runs in 3 starts and 22 IP. He does have a penchant for the HR giving up over a homer per nine innings his entire professional career. Since he doesn’t walk many or give up many hits (lowest WHIP in the NL this year), these homers tend to be of the solo variety. He features a FB (90.4 MPH, 54.8%), CB (75.6 MPH, 13.7%), and a devastating CH (80.7, 31.7%). He has great stuff and pitches well, he’ll be very tough to beat.

 

RHP Brett Myers (4.66) The mercurial righty was terrible after moving back into the rotation to start the year (70 RA in 101 2/3 IP). After spending a month in the minors he seems to have regained his form (giving up 33 Rs in 88 1/3 to end the regular season). He’s struggled a bit in his starts in the postseason giving up 7 runs in 12 IP. The Rays would help themselves greatly by jumping on him in game 2.

 

LHP Jamie Moyer (4.85)  The ancient one had a pretty good regular season despite throwing the second slowest FB (81.2) in the game this year (behind Wakefield). He gets by on staying on the corners and letting the solid defense behind him get him outs. He’s been pummeled in the playoffs, and the Rays lineup should destroy him.

 

RHP Joe Blanton (5.01) The ultimate decent, innings-eater, Blanton has been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Phillies. Despite giving up runs, since being acquired in the regular season and in the playoffs, the Phillies offense gives him great run support. In an illustration of how bad W-L record is he has yet to lose a game since coming to Philly, and Hamels is barely over .500.

 

RHP Brad Lidge (2.47) Acquired for the OB machine that is Michael Bourn, Myers has returned to dominance this year. He strikes out over a batter an inning combining a great FB (94.3, 43.4%) SL (85.1, 56.2%) combination and mixing in the CH very, very rarely. The Phillies have yet to lose a game when going in to the ninth with the lead, and the anchor of the bullpen has been great this year.

 

RHP Ryan Madson (3.6) The reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever has been very good out of the BP this year. Mixing in 4 pitches, FB (92.9, 57.5%), CH (80.9, 23.7%), CT (89.6%, 15.3%), and CB (77.5, 3.5%), he doesn’t get that many Ks, but he balances that out by keeping the ball in play and not giving many free passes.

 

RHP Chad Durbin (3.69) Another multi-pitch reliever that doesn’t strike many out. He does give up a few more walks but is very stingy with the long ball (.51 HR/9).

 

LHP J.C. Romero (4.27) The only decent LHP in the BP until they got Eyre, Romero has had a good year inducing a lot of GBs into the teeth of the Philly defense. Fits the mold of other BP mates in that he doesn’t give anything away and doesn’t strike many out.

 

RHP Clay Condry (4.49) Read every other BP summary. He’s like them only not as good.

 

Carlos Ruiz (.289, 1.3) The Phils love him. I don’t understand it, but they keep waiting for him to come around. Not that good with the stick or the glove, yet they keep letting him play over Coste. Neither are great.

 

Ryan Howard (.367, -2.7) The former MVP is one of the most overrated players in the game. Piles up RBIs because he has two great table setters in front of him and he can hit for power. Very susceptible to the strike-out, and he is essentially Jason Varitek against LHP. Expect him to get a heavy dose of LH relievers. Interestingly, Manuel hasn’t been splitting he and fellow lefty Utley up.

 

Chase Utley (.392, 20.5) Arguably the best all-around player in baseball, yet two other of his fellow Philly infielders have won MVPs, Utley does it all. He’s the best defensive 2B in the game right now as well as the best offensive. He is patient, hits for power, and hits for average. In case you haven’t figured it out. I’m in love with him.

 

Pedro Feliz (.319, -.9) Brought in to upgrade the weak link in the infield, he hasn’t been much of one. He doesn’t walk a whole lot or hit for power. He’ll definitel chase pitches, as his OOZ swing % is 29.97.

 

Jimmy Rollins (.351, 11.4) Isn’t showing the same power he displayed last year when he won the MVP, and this has come with a drop in average and increase in IsoD. So his OBP has remain relatively unchanged. Surprisingly, his K rate dropped (by a little) and his abysmal walk-rate doubled (from .5% to 1%). Neither of these tiny changes were enough to compensate for his huge increase in GB%. Thus explaining the drop in average and power without much of a drop in BABIP.

 

Pat Burrell (.373, -.8) Aubrey Huff’s college teammate is a great pure-hitter (he, Aubrey, and Jason Michaels all hit over .400 at Miami the same year). He’s being a little less patient this year (going OOZ 20.14% of the time with his previous career high at 15.62), but he’s having a monster season. Hits a lot of FB and LD (65.1% of the time) that result in a lot of power (.257 IsoP) . He’s still walking in 16% of his PAs, so he is still very patient.

 

Shane Victorino (.362, 7.8) The Flyin’ Hawaiian is having a career year, and according to Justin Inaz’s TVL he is the Phils 4th most valuable player. A plus defender that gets on base and hits for decent power (52 XBH), Victorino has been great so far in the playoffs. He’ll go out of the zone (28.71%), so it may be wise to throw him some junk to keep the speedster off the paths (36 SBs).

 

Jayson Werth (.381, 12.1) Surprisingly, Werth ranks as the third most valuable Philly according to Justin Inaz’s TVL. A plus defender in RF, Werth also brings a good stick as well. His batted-ball data lines up with career norms, so his great season seems to be due primarily to increased playing time. Much like Burrell and Utley (to a lesser extent, though) he displays patience (IsoD of .90) and power (IsoP of .225). He and Burrell are the righties that balance the Howard-Utley lefty combination.

 

Matt Stairs (.403) and Greg Dobbs (.359) will likely platoon at DH. Stairs is a professional hitter who has always walked aand hit for power when given the chance. Dobbs has had a pretty good year off the bench, and he will likely start the games started by Kazmir and come off the bench to PH against Price or Howell.

 

Eric Bruntlett (.280, 1), So Taguchi (.276, -2.6), Geoff Jenkins (.317, 3.3), Chris Coste (.337, .7)

 

I FORGOT MY PREDICTION AND KEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Keys:

1. Beat Myers. If you beat Myers, then you don't have to beat Hamels. This of course assumes you beat Blanton and Moyer.

2. Split up the top of their lineup. Don't let the top of their lineup all come up in any inning other than the first. They have some black holes in the lineup, so if you can force them to beat you then that's huge.

3. Score early and score often. Their bullpen has been great, and their offense scores runs. We can't let down if we score 2-3 early on. We have to keep pummeling and try to get to the soft underbelly of their BP.

Prediction: Rays in 6

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