The two sides settle up for the right to play the Phillies in the World Series tonight, just days after the Rays were seven outs away.
You won't find a strong rooting interest here, although a small part of me hopes Tampa validates their wonderful season by sticking Boston back in the trash. It’s nearly impossible to gauge which team would be a better match-up for the Phils. Running down the pros and cons can become tedious. Maybe Tampa, since Boston has been there before. Either representative figures to be favored. Interleague play proved the AL to be the superior league, based on a rather large sampling of interleague games, and everyone remembers how the Phils showed against the junior circuit. Nevertheless, Cole Hamels is capable of holding both lineups down. Take one on the road and it becomes a different series.
Back to the Phils. Charlie Manuel has set his rotation and it will stay as it was in the NLCS. He hasn't named a designated hitter. There won’t be great answer at DH against left-handed pitching. Against right-handers they’ll be fine. Matt Stairs had 291 plate appearances in the role with Toronto. He hit Boston better than Tampa, but wasn't especially great against either. Greg Dobbs is swinging the bat well but has just one hit against left-handed pitching all season. They’ve been saving So Taguchi thinking he’ll give them a big October hit, but he’s been so feeble at the plate and hasn’t even been used as a defensive replacement. Replacing Taguchi with catcher Lou Marson would provide a safety net to use Chris Coste as the righty DH. Coste hit .296/.363/.519 against left-handed pitching this season.