MLB: World Series Betting Preview

MLB: World Series Betting Preview

For all the whining people have done about baseball being geared towards the money clubs


2008-10-21

For all the whining people have done about baseball being geared towards the money clubs, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay will be the 11th and 12th different teams to play in the World Series in the last seven years. These same complainers will no doubt point to the TV rating which will likely be quite low, however who cares what they think, since this Fall Classic has more storylines than a Gray's Anatomy episode.

Start with the skippers Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel. Both are long-time baseball men, entrenched in playing baseball the right way. All aspects of the game are used and instead of playing it by the book, each has shown the desire to take calculated risks (used to be called hunches), unafraid to change up the lineup or move starting pitchers around.

Maddon understood he had a young team and even grew a Mohawk to fit in with his players. Manuel is laid-back soft spoken sort, but is perfect fit for this Philadelphia club, as anyone has watched the Phillies all year or in the playoffs, the number of players that continually put their arms around or are slapping the back of Manual during games when things are going well. You don't see that happening to Lou Piniella or Joe Torre during games.

These two teams are remarkably similar in many areas. The Rays led the Major Leagues in steals with 142, with the Phils six behind at 136. Philadelphia was 9th in runs scored at 799 and Tampa Bay was four spots lower at 774 runs. Both teams have a first basemen that the offense runs thru in Ryan Howard and Carlos Pena.

Tampa Bay has edge in starting pitching in the series, with all their starters having pitched well in the postseason. Scott Kazmir (13-9, 3.54 ERA) and James Shields (15-10, 3.57) will be the opening starters for Games 1 and 2 at Tropicana Field, where the Rays were 29-7 when this duo threw the opening pitch. Matt Garza (13-10, 3.67) won two games in the ALCS proving his skill and Andy Sonnanstine (8-5 on the road) has accounted himself well in two postseason outings.

Philadelphia has to piece things together more than Tampa Bay. Phillies ace Cole Hamels (17-10, 2.92) can be dominating pitcher and is on top of his game right now allowing just 13 hits and three runs in 22 innings in the postseason. Brett Myers (12-13, 4.59) is hot and cold and Jamie Moyer has been dreadful in two post-season appearances, allowing eight runs in 5 1/3 innings, being the only pitcher to suffer a loss for Philadelphia. Joe Blanton has been pretty decent and the Phils have won his last six starts.

The bullpens are similar, yet very different. Maddon does have a closer in Dan Wheeler, but has shown he will ride a hot pitcher in the right situation like David Price in Game 7 against Boston. If Price can stay as dominant, he would help immeasurably against lefty bats Howard and Chase Utley.

The Phillies have excellent set-up men, all leading to closer Brad Lidge who can slam the door late in games. If Philly can get to the late innings with a lead, they should be able to win each contest.

Nuts and Bolts- Tampa Bay had the best home record in baseball and Philadelphia the second best road in the big leagues. The Rays were better in games decided by three runs or less with 66-42 record compared to the Phillies 64-49 mark. Philadelphia is the hotter team, having won 20 of 25, though Tampa Bay is hardly chilly at 21-12. The Rays were 12-6 against the National League, while Philadelphia was sorry 4-11 versus the junior circuit. For what it's worth, the former Devil Rays hold a 10-5 all-time lead over the Phils having last played in 2006.

StatFox Take: Philadelphia has an intangible the last several National League teams have not, power. The Phillies hit 214 home runs during the regular season, proving they can score runs in bunches. In the last 25 World Series games, the American league has out-homered the National 25-10. For Philadelphia to win, Hamels has to win two games and one starter and the Phillies bullpen will have to pick up another.

Tampa Bay has enthusiasm and talented young players. The Rays are unencumbered by expectations, thus should not feel pressure to have to succeed. Tampa has better starting pitching and has won three of five games on the road in October. If the home run hitting keeps up, this will be a tough club to beat four times.

Recently, most Fall Classic's have been far from it, this one could go seven. With Tampa Bay being so strong at home, we'll give them the nod, ironically earning that edge with Scott Kazmir being the winning pitcher at the All-Star Game.
Series odds from Sportsbook.com: Philadelphia +125, Tampa Bay -145
Wednesday October 22
Philadelphia (Hamels) at Tampa Bay (Kazmir) 8:35 EDT

Thursday October 23
Philadelphia (Myers) at Tampa Bay (Shields) 8:29 EDT

Saturday October 25
Tampa Bay (Garza) at Philadelphia (Moyer) 8:35 EDT

Sunday October 26
Tampa Bay (Sonnanstine) at Philadelphia (Blanton) 8:28 EDT

Monday October 27
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia if necessary

Wednesday October 29
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay if necessary

Thursday October 30
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay if necessary


Offensive Playoffs
Runs scored Philadelphia 4.4 Tampa Bay 5.8
Home Runs Philadelphia 10 Tampa Bay 22
Slugging Ptc. Philadelphia .431 Tampa Bay .508
Walks Philadelphia 34 Tampa Bay 37
On base Ptc. Philadelphia .335 Tampa Bay .335

Pitching & Defense
ERA Philadelphia 3.19 Tampa Bay 3.52
Strikeouts Philadelphia 74 Tampa Bay 85
Walks Philadelphia 35 Tampa Bay 45
WHIP Philadelphia 1.32 Tampa Bay 1.32
Errors Philadelphia 4 Tampa Bay 6

Note- Tampa Bay has played 11 postseason games and Philadelphia nine.

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