The New York Yankees are the definition of the greatest franchise in all of professional sports. They just won their fortieth American League championship of all time. If you are a historian of the game you know how truly amazing this number is. No one else is remotely close. This year the Yankees dispensed with the Twins and the Angels with relative ease. Now they face the best team they have played so far, the reigning World Series Champion Philadelphia Phils. If I had to pick a winner this evening it would have to be the Yankees. The Phils are tested and strong, especially when it comes to team chemistry and hitting. But after Cliff Lee they are not as solid as N.Y. in starting pitching and their bullpen does not compare.
These have to be the best two starting lineups in baseball. Both can mash the ball and manufacture runs both. And both are always able to come from behind and win when down early in the game by four or five runs. So this could be a great offensive series. Expect more than a few home runs playing in two of the most home run friendly parks in all of baseball.
Both teams have good starters, or at least two good starters. My concern for the Phils is with Cole Hammels. He was dominant last year but has never regained that level of excellence this season. This has carried over into the post-season and now he may be the weak link in the Phils starting rotation. When C. C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee match up the irony is really strong—only a year ago, before the trade deadline, they were both pitching for the Cleveland Indians. Now they square off against one another representing Philadelphia and New York. They should both give us solid starting pitching for at least two, maybe three, games.The "wild card" for the Phils is the old veteran Pedro Martinez. How will he fare against the Yankees?
In my view the bullpen strongly favors the Yankees. Watching the Phils play the Braves a lot during the regular season it was obvious that the Phils bullpen was not dependable. Brad Lidge has not been a solid closer and this could well cost Philadelphia a game in this potentially tough series. Mariano Rivera, on the other hand, just gets it done in the post-season. Advantage: Yankees.
So, my guess is that the Yankees win in six or seven games in a very entertaining series. It could turn out to be a great series of both teams play at their best but I think the Yanks will prevail in the end. Joe Girardi has proven to be a great manager, winning in both Florida and New York. He is the manager the Cubs really wanted. If he wins he does it in his second year in the pressure cooker called New York. I am not a huge fan of either team but I will enjoy the series, as always. Real baseball fans look forward to these games and remember them for a long, long time. "Play Ball."