By Dave Sheinin
Saturday, October 24, 2009
As the Philadelphia Phillies sit back and wait to find out the identity of their World Series opponent, Manager Charlie Manuel provided the first clues as to how he might line up his starting rotation.
Manuel, speaking at a news conference in Philadelphia, hinted that veteran right-hander Pedro Martínez could get a start early in the series, but did not say when. The Phillies are expected to send Cliff Lee to the mound in Game 1 Wednesday night against either the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Angels, but after that the Phillies have no clear-cut choice for Games 2, 3 or 4.
Lefty Cole Hamels might have been the obvious choice for Game 2, given his pitching heroics last postseason, but Hamels has struggled in these playoffs, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and a .308 opponents' batting average in three starts.
With Games 1 and 2 on the road, the Phillies could turn in Game 2 to Martínez, who went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA for them after signing in July, and who shut out the Dodgers for seven innings in Game 2 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.
"He's been in the big moment," Manuel said. "And [the way he pitched] at Dodger Stadium, he deserves another chance to go back out there."
Rain may be a factor
Weather is once again threatening to wreak havoc upon the ALCS, with thunderstorms and showers in the forecast for Saturday's Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. A rainout could give both the Angels and Yankees reason to rethink their rotations for the series -- and beyond.
For the Yankees, who lead the series 3-2, a rainout would give them the option of moving up ace CC Sabathia, currently scheduled to start Game 7 on Sunday night (if necessary), to Game 6 -- still on full rest. However, the Yankees trust veteran lefty Andy Pettitte, their current Game 6 starter, and would rather win with Pettitte and save Sabathia for Game 1 of the World Series.
For the Angels, a rainout and a Game 6 win on Sunday would give them the option of starting ace John Lackey on short rest in Game 7 on Monday. . . .
Girardi said he would "sleep on" the question of whether to bench struggling right fielder Nick Swisher.