Phillies vs. Rays: World Series Preview

Phillies vs. Rays: World Series Preview

Phillies vs. Rays: World Series preview and pick
By JACOB WHEATLEY-SCHALLER

(+134) Philadelphia Phillies at Tampa Bay Rays (-144)

Tampa Bay comes into the World Series with just two days rest after their classic battle with the Red Sox in the ALCS.  Meanwhile, the Phillies will be a full week removed from their pennant clinching victory in Game 5 of the NLCS.  A lot of attention will probably be paid to this, but you should pretty much ignore it.  If the Rays win, the media will say the long layoff hurt the Phillies; if Philadelphia wins, they will say it’s because the Rays were exhausted from the Red Sox series.  Neither are necessarily false, but neither are necessarily true either; notice how nobody is making either of these statements with much confidence right now.

As for the actual games on the field, the Game 1 line is very telling, with the Phillies, on the road, actually being a slight favorite.  With Hamels essentially cancelling out Tampa’s home-field advantage, both for the game and for the series, the Rays would have to have a huge advantage in their other three home games to justify laying -144.  They do an edge in all three games, with Myers vs. Shields twice, and then Matt Garza potentially pitching another Game 7 against Jamie Moyer.  But the Phillies have three home games themselves.  They’ll be big favorites when Hamels pitches in Citizen’s Bank Park, and will likely also be favored with Joe Blanton on the hill in Game 5.  I don’t know if it’s because the books are trying to hedge against all the preseason Rays futures, but the value here seems to lie in the plus money with Philadelphia.

One slight area of concern there would be the apparent huge gap between the two leagues.  The AL’s All-Star Game and World Series dominance is nice anecdotal evidence, but here’s what really matters: there were 252 interleague games played this year, and the AL won 59.1 percent of them.  This was no fluke either; the NL didn’t do much better from 2005-2007, winning just 43.5 percent.

Verdict: There’s no question that the AL is the superior league, and Tampa just emerged from the toughest division in that league.  But I still don’t think that justifies laying this much chalk against a very strong Phillies team, so I’m going Philadelphia in seven.

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Re: Phillies vs. Rays: World Series Preview

World Series Preview
By Josh Jacobs

The improbable has happened. Tampa Bay was a galaxy away from being projected as the American League representative in the World Series before the season began in April. But that’s why they play the game.

Eight division titles, six National League pennants and only one World Series title since the club’s inception in 1883 only feeds the hunger that the city of Philadelphia has been experiencing. The Phillies find themselves oh so close to sealing the deal for the big trophy but, as always, there’s a lot of questions to answer even before the first pitch is tossed.

Philadelphia: The first thing that comes to mind is how could the Phillies waltz through the Dodgers, winning the National League Championship Series in five games, without relying on power slugger Ryan Howard? Howard can be classified as one of the streakiest hitters in the modern era of baseball, batting a disappointing .251 on the season only to record a league tops 146 RBIs. This is a professional hitter who’s conjured up a .168 batting average in the month of April, while swinging the wood for an average of .300 or more in just two months of ’08 (July and September).

Even with Howard working for just three RBIs throughout the playoffs, the Phillies have come to the ballpark with plenty more talent. In the offensive department, Shane Victorino, Pat Burrell and Chase Utley have combined to produce a .278 BA with 23 RBIs and six home runs. It’s worth taking notice that Howard has been walked eight times in October, but no excuses can be given to the noticeable up and down production from the plate (Burrell has been walked eight times as well).

And it hasn’t just been Howard struggling to find a groove. Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins, a .277 career hitter, emerged from the NLCS going 3-for-21 with one lonely RBI in the five games it took to dispatch of the Dodgers.

Easily the strongest factor in making a push for the World Series hardware rests in the Phillies’ bullpen. This is a group who’s blown the ball past opposing batters for a 3.19 ERA during the regular season, and a blistering 1.88 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP during the postseason.

Right-hander Ryan Madson has been touched for only seven hits with just one run sacrificed in nine innings pitched during the NLDS and CS games. Next in line statistical wise is Brad Lidge, the lights out closer responsible for earning five saves in seven appearances during the postseason. Lidge has recorded 10 strikeouts (12.27 Ks per nine innings), while keeping his ERA to a low-down dirty 1.23 ERA. This is a slinger not responsible for blowing a save all season long! Let's not leave out the rest of this pen made up of Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero. Reliever wise, Philly is equipped to battle it out in the later innings.

As for the starting staff, Cole Hamels highlights both teams as the top pitcher in this series. His three wins in three starts, and the ability to maintain a 1.23 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP while striking out 22 batters in the 22 innings of work throughout the playoffs is all the evidence we need to explain how good the southpaw has been (not to mention his performance during the regular season).

The problem that might rear its head for Philly is with 2-2 starter Brett Myers and 13.50 ERA veteran slinger, Jamie Moyer. There’s definitely been a weak link in the pitching chain when these two take the mound. And with the success of Tampa’s bats, the Phillies must be concerned how Games 2 and 3 will develop as both slingers will take the starting job respectively.

Projected Starters: Cole Hamels - Game 1; Brett Myers - Game 2; Jamie Moyer - Game 3; Joe Blanton - Game 4

Tampa Bay: So it’s taken 10 years to get to this point (the amount of time its been since inception into the Major Leagues). Not long when compared to the Cubbies’ and the Brewers’ long history of missing out on big opportunities. When Game 1 begins on Wednesday, here’s what backers, fans and the rest of the public can expect to witness on their television sets.

The pitching staff uncovers a core of arms that may be statistically inferior to a Cole Hamels type of player, but can get the job done without question. Right-handed slinger Matt Garza revealed that 118 pitches in seven innings of work could translate into his biggest ‘W’ on the board. Garza emerged from Game 7 of the ALCS as a major force in Tampa Bay’s arsenal.

It’s been decided that manager Joe Maddon will hand the ball off to “designated ace” Scott Kazmir in Game 1 of the World Series. Kazmir took a real tough no decision in Game 5 at Fenway Park, pitching six innings while giving up two hits and no runs. His departure paved the way for the Red Sox to rally in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, eventually taking the win but that’s not to detract from Kazmir’s near spotless effort.

Working right into Game 2, expects to see 14-game winner James Sheilds toeing the slab with a 1-2 record and a 3.72 ERA in postseason play. The righty has been consistent in giving up anywhere from three to four runs during the playoffs, and is 0-2 in his last two outings. Opposing teams have only been able to scrape together a .234 BA against Shields in 2008 at home, versus his .277 BAA on the road. And again, Tampa Bay favors its No. 1 starting pitcher (in the rotation and not to be confussed with Kazmir's ace label) with a 14-3 record when he receives slinging duties.

At the plate, the Rays have exploded onto the scene by scoring 6.1 runs per game in the seven contests it took to down the defending champion Red Sox. Who would have predicted that .253 seasonal hitting (team average), Willy Aybar stroking the ball for two homers with six RBIs during the ALCS and 180-pound B.J. Upton going yard with four long balls all while bringing in a team high 11 RBIs against Boston could all materialize into reality?

Does third baseman Evan Longoria's four shots over the fence with eight RBIs during the championship series surprise you at all? The point is that the batting order has been a work of art for a team that was installed as a 150/1 underdog to take the World Series before the season officially commenced.

And then there’s the underrated analysis of Tampa Bay’s impeccable defensive work around the diamond. The regular season alone witnessed the Rays committing an eighth best 90 errors, while Carlos Pena and Akinori Iwamura combined to turn 226 double plays.

Projected Starters: Scott Kazmir - Game 1; James Shields - Game 2; Matt Garza - Game 3; Andy Sonnanstine - Game 4

Interleague Numbers: Tampa Bay reigned supreme in 2008 interleague play, rallying behind a balanced attack of pitching and hitting. The Rays finished up the interleague schedule going 12-6, tied only with the White Sox as the best performing teams versus the National League. Hands down, the Rays’ top notch producing pitcher was Andy Sonnanstine with a perfect, 4-0 record and a 3.04 ERA.

At the plate, Tampa made contact for a team .290 BA. Both Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford found themselves front and center of the stat sheet with a combined .344 BA with 32 RBIs and 10 home runs. Crawford played in four games less (14) then Longoria during interleague play.

Getting more specific, the Rays scored 7.3 runs per game in the six road contest played at Florida and Pittsburgh.  Tampa Bay gave up only four runs per game (the first two road losses in interleague games were a disaster, witnessing the team giving up a total of 14 runs).

On the opposite bench was a Philadelphia club that typified the National League’s track record versus their American League counterpart. Philly had major problems laying the lumber down with a .220 BA, while the pitching game imploded for a 4.90 ERA. All of these problems on both sides of the ball translated into a 3-15 record, scoring a low total of 27 runs (the league’s worst scoring club during interleague play).

Odds and Ends: Sportsbetting.com has placed a -140 price tag (bet $140 to make $100) on Tampa Bay to take the 2008 World Series. The same book has installed Philadelphia as a $1.20 underdog in the best-of-seven Fall Classic. The reason for the Rays to be adjusted as favorites stems from books across the globe setting them as high as 200-1 long shots. Trying to cut back on the major payouts if Tampa takes the series, books decided to change their tune.

If you’re interested in placing exotic wagers then below is a list of prop bets that might spark your interest. As more featured wagers become available expect them to be posted.

Game 1 Odds:
Phillies -101
Rays -109

Game 1 Total
Over 7½ (-105)
Under 7½ (-115)

Team to Score First in Game 1:
Phillies -150
Rays +130

Team to Score Last in Game 1:
Phillies -110
Rays -120

Will there be a score in the 1st inning of Game 1
Yes +135
No -170

Prediction: Many argued that Tampa Bay wouldn’t make first place in the AL East, let alone to work for a shot at the playoffs and beyond. Those days are now well past us, and the Rays look to be on a one-way express to victory. The Phillies are going to be one tough opponent for Tampa Bay with the mix of power hitting lefties, and a Philly ballpark conducive to offensive production.  A park factor of 1.029 runs – remember that this figure is generated by taking the home runs scored + home runs allowed divided by home games divided by road runs scored + road runs allowed divided by road games, and a stout bullpen ready for war.

But I’m sticking by my guns (although I may have jumped on the Rays’ train a little late in the game) and choosing Tampa Bay to squeeze out a final Game 7 win at home. “If” the Rays’ starting rotation can continue to hold down a Philadelphia club struggling to generate consistent numbers from the plate, then we’re talking about a Tampa Bay picture with the Commissioner’s Trophy in hand.

The key word is “if” but I foresee the Rays in seven.

vegasinsider.com.

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Re: Phillies vs. Rays: World Series Preview

2008 World Series Outlook   
by: Brad Diamond Sports 

It's day one in the quest for a world championship, Philadelphia at Tampa Bay on that fake surface with a plastic (I think) roof. Not the most artistic edifice to jump start the fall classic. Believe me Mantle. Maris or Robinson would not be impressed. Still, this is the 2008 version of what baseball has become with a southern expansion club versus an old line organization from the eastern corridor. There are distinct contrasts in this two combatants, but one thing is for sure, this will be a real classic that most will not forget. Oh, I doubt the viewer ratings will surpass the historic records, but no doubt those who tune in will be quite surprised at the dramatic nature of the events that will unfold.

Tampa Bay

The Rays have left us all shocked with manager Maddon leading a group of players that most thought were dead last season losing almost 100 games. This season the once Devil Rays became the new "Rays" and almost won 100 games, an absolute miracle of sorts when you consider the facts and circumstances. With a super pitching staff, maturing, top to bottom, the young club became a force in the American League east. With the Yankees and Red Sox going through their own changes in their roster daily the east took shape with the Rays taking charge. Later in the year Tampa Bay starter to fade, but the club never gave up and rally around their youth and spirit to easily take home a flag for the first time in their franchise history. As an organization, this club reminds, somewhat, of the Florida Marlins. The difference, however, will be the ownership will not drop ship on success and sell-off. This is a long-time winner that will challenging for the AL pennant every year, as long as the pitching holds strong. Quite an accomplishment for a dead club just one short season ago.

Philadelphia

After winning the NL east last season the fans of Philadelphia were knocking down the door for tickets, selling out most often, for hopefully a World Championship. It was a season of ups and downs early on, especially when former MVP Ryan Howard started off hitting under .200, while scaring the hell out of the fan base. Chase Utley carried the club in April and May, but once the star hurt his hip the numbers started to slide and so did the Phillies. The major surprises, though, that kept the glue in place was lefty and aging veteran Jamie Moyer. His mastery of the National League was off the charts considering age, and all the pressure Philadelphia was under throughout the season. In addition, Moyer helped Hamels develop and kept the kid solid in some real tough outings. When Philly acquired reliever Brad Lidge from Houston in the off-season, he was thought to be a reclamation project by most after his confidence was shattered during the Texas experience. Instead, the veteran turned his baseball life expectancy around big time with a possible Cy Young award in the balance.

Conclusion

In the balance this series brings varying personalities and opposite cultures to the history of this great sport. Most likely, the winner will come out of an odd bounce, a misplay of sorts. The winner of game one recently, has gone on to take the series. Philly may have the bullpen depth, but the emergence of lefty David Price for the Rays could have a nullifying affect on that edge. 

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Re: Phillies vs. Rays: World Series Preview

WORLD SERIES ANALYSIS
ROCKBOXSPORTS.COM

The Rays-Phillies matchup is an intriguing one and not an easy call in terms of series wagering. The public seems to be leaning towards the Rays, perhaps even expecting some type of easy win in 4 or 5 games. While we understand the enthusiasm for the Rays, particularly with the power surge they have shown in the playoffs, we're not sure it will be quite that easy. Phillies have a strong lineup, the best pitcher in the series in Cole Hamels, a solid defense and a very strong bullpen. Their obvious weakness is the depth of the rotation behind Hamels. Can they get strong starts from Brett Myers, Jamie Moyers, and/or Joe Blanton? That's the question you have to ask yourself here. Now that they're hitting homers at a rate greater than they did in the regular season, the Rays are extremely dangerous. They clearly have the greater depth in the rotation. However, their bullpen is shaky and showed signs of being seriously worn down in the Red Sox series. Enter rookie David Price. Price is a huge factor in this series. Although he projects as a starter in the future, his emergence in the ALCS is reminscent of a young Frankie Rodriguez who, after pitching in only 5 regular season games for the Angels as a 20 year-old rookie in 2002, became the centerpiece of their postseason bullpben, pitching in 11 game, picking up 5 saves, and damn near carrying the Angeles to the World Series title . Rays may have to use Price just as extensively as they are not likely to get by with the Dan Wheelers of the world when the game is on the line. Without Price on the roster, we might likely take the Phils on the expectation that the Rays bullpen was not capable of closing the deal. However, Price changes that dynamic. Then again, he's a rookie and not necessarily a sure thing- although close to it. He seems damn near unhittable at this point and will be a weapon against guys like Howard and Utley who can be neutralized by lefties. The only hope for the Phils would seem to be (1) control problems for Price and/or (2) underuse/misuse by Rays manager Joe Madden. Madden did badly misuse his bullpen in the Red Sox 8-7 comeback victory in the ALCS. Another thing for bettors to keep in mind here is the fact that series price on the Rays is clearly inflated due to the fact that Vegas is holding so much futures money on the team. Vegas stands to get hit hard if the Rays win and, as a result, they are skewing the line to even things out by encouraging Philly money. Under these circumstances, the value on the Rays is diminished and one might even consider a Philly series bet if the line goes much higher than its current status at +120. However, we just do not have enough faith in the back end of the Phils rotation to pull the trigger on the series bet. Hamels might well win two games in this series, but Brett Myers might have to win the other two himself because Moyer and Blanton are extremely shaky propositions. The fact that those two got smacked around by the light-hitting Dodgers does not bode well for them against a more potent AL squad. Can Myers win two games? Certainly he is capable of it- and if he does the Phils win the series. We say he wins one and the Rays fall just short. This could be a good series, much better than many expect. We'll lean slightly towards the Rays because of Price and say Rays in seven, but will lay off the series bet due to lack of value and take the series one game at a time. Looking towards game one, for example, we think the value lies with Hamels

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