Friday, October 10, 2008
The Sox-Rays series simply comes down to the club with more walks and home runs will win the pennant. Both clubs convert a high percentage of balls in play into outs. It is unlikely that either team will get three singles to scratch out a run multiple times in a game. Walks and home runs – to a lesser extent doubles particularly at Fenway - will determine who moves on to the World Series.
Each hitter on both clubs will take a walk to first base. The Sox would have had a better lineup, but the loss of Mike Lowell and the less than full strength David Ortiz and J.D. Drew decreases the number of power threats. The Rays have Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria as legit with Cliff Floyd and B.J. Upton as questionable. The Sox match them with Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay and the aforementioned David Ortiz and J.D. Drew as possible threats. The offenses like the glove work are even.
It is a cliché but the pennant will come down to pitching. Based on my stat called “score” [(SO-BB-HR*4) / IN], the Red Sox top four starters and relievers (.1394) are 75% better than the Rays (.0787) based on this years performance. The bullpens are relatively equal, but Madden has and could continue to push his top relievers – Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell – to gain a slight advantage in the latter innings.
Shields has produced better than Dice-K this season. Beckett and Lester have been much much better than Kazmir and Garza, but the reverse is true in the Wake-Sonnanstine match up for Game four. If the Rays stick with a four-man rotation, the Sox have the advantage. If Shields goes on three days rest in Game four and regular rest for Game seven, we are even up again.
Unless someone steps up - Kazmir, Garza, Wake, Dice-K are all good possibilities, the series will come down to a lucky bounce, a bad pitch - I’m looking at you Dan Wheeler, a bone head play - I’m looking at you B.J. Upton or…"Maybe it's something really cool that I don't even know about.” Anyway, this is going to be a tough series.