Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why the Yankees will win

I like the Phillies, I really do, and I'm going to be rooting for them when Commissioner Bud and Fox finally let the games resume.

But the Yankees are going to win.

I say that not because the Yankees are the best team in the best league — which they are. Lesser teams have won the World Series before and will again — when the key matchups go their way.

The matchups don't favor the Phillies this year.

The key concept: The Yankees lineup is better equipped to deal with Philadelphia's best pitchers than the Phillies lineup is to deal with New York's best starters.

Both teams feature a heavy reliance on left-handed starting pitchers. The Yankees have used just three starters this postseason: CC Sabathia (left-handed), A.J. Burnett (right) and Andy "no initials" Pettitte (left). The power in the Phillies lineup — Chase Utley (above), Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez — is left-handed.

The Phillies' top two starters, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, are left-handed. But the Yankee lineup offers few left-handed hitters for them to torment. New York has four switch-hitters (Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera) — and two dangerous right-handed bats in Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Another point in the Yankees favor — they have spent the season ripping mediocre relief pitching. That's what underlies their impressive record of comeback and walk-off wins. The Phillies bullpen crew is not stellar. For all the headlines proclaiming that Brad Lidge has regained his form, his postseason outings have been tightrope affairs.

That's not complex handicapping, but sometimes a simple analysis gets to the heart of the matter. Yankees in five.

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