Yankees have tough lineup choices ahead as series shifts

Updated: October 29, 2009

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Yankees will have lineup decisions to make when the World Series shifts to Philadelphia.

As the Yankees travel to Philadelphia for Game 3 of the World Series, an interesting dynamic comes into play as they will lose their designated hitter.

This is a huge disadvantage for the Yankees because they need to decide whether they want an offensive or defensive lineup. Will they catch Jorge Posada, who is better offensively? They will have to consider what to do with Hideki Matsui because you lose him as DH, and he becomes part of your bench. When do you use him? The Phillies can play both National League and American League style ball, whereas the Yankees will have to make a lot more adjustments and are not as flexible.

One thing to consider is the Phillies' ability and success in stealing bases. To counter that, the Yankees probably will want a defensive catcher. You can't sit Posada for three games in Philly -- and this is after sitting him in favor of Jose Molina in Game 2. You can't keep taking that bat out of the lineup. Joe Girardi should try to get him three at-bats, then put Molina in there as a defensive replacement around the seventh inning. In the World Series, you have to go pitching, defense and offense -- in that order.

Not being able to rely on the DH means a once-potent Yankees lineup will be weaker coming into Game 3, and that gives a mental advantage to the Phillies right from the start. Philadelphia won't have to make adjustments like New York because it can just put Raul Ibanez, who's been playing left field the whole year but was DH in the past two games in New York, back out in the outfield and allow him to get three or four at-bats. If Philadelphia wants to put a defensive replacement in for him, it can bring in Ben Francisco. Keep in mind that he has played better defense, and he can surprise you with the bat, as well. Survey says? Advantage Phillies.

And, don't forget, these American League pitchers are going to have to hit -- or try to hit. But hey, CC Sabathia is likely to come up with a big hit. He's not bad at the plate. A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte are just as athletic, so they won't be overwhelmed. Both Burnett and Pettitte have pitched in the NL, too, so it's not going to be new to them.

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NUMBERS TO KNOW

Cole Hamels was brilliant in the postseason last year, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and leading the Phillies to a World Series title.

The 2009 season was mostly disappointing for Hamels, though. He went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA. He's been even worse in the playoffs this year, posting a 6.75 ERA so far. Opponents have hit .328 and slugged .672 against him in three starts. Batters have really pounded his pitches located in the zone in the postseason, with five homers and a slugging percentage of .833.

Cole Hamels pitches in zone (2009)
Regular season Postseason
Pct. of pitches 55.0 52.0
SLG against .487 .833
Ground ball pct. 43.0 29.0
Miss pct. 19.0 16.0

-- ESPN Stats & Information


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HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks closely at Andy Pettitte's career numbers in the World Series. Pettitte is set to start Game 3 on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Andy Pettitte in World Series (career)
Starts team won Starts team lost
ERA 1.73 7.40
BA against .266 .317
Combined score 24-11 (Pettitte's team) 40-9 (opponents)
Starts 9* 5

* Pettitte allowed zero earned runs in four starts.

THOSE LONG-SUFFERING YANKEES FANS