Before setting his rotation for the World Series, Charlie Manuel admitted that he gave some consideration to changing things up and going with Jamie Moyer in Game 2 and holding Brett Myers off until Game 3 back in Philadelphia. In the end, he decided to leave things just the way they were, but should he have made the switch?
Switching the two pitchers would have had some advantages. First, Brett Myers pitched much better at home this season than he did on the road and that phenomenon was true even through the first half of the season when he was pitching so badly. In fact, his home ERA through June when he was sent to the minors was a respectable 3.81 in 54.1 innings. And while the numbers aren't as obvious in the second-half, Myers still continued to pitch better at home, compiling a 2.04 ERA at Citizens Bank Park and a 4.09 ERA outside the Philadelphia city limits. Jamie Moyer's numbers were reversed; At home, he sported a 4.61 ERA, but was at just a 2.92 mark outside of Citizens Bank Park.
With Myers starting Game 2, his first start comes on the road, while Moyer will make his first start at home in Game 3. Not only does Myers start Game 2 on the road, but he would then come back in Game 6, which would also be in Tampa Bay. Moyer gets one home start before being written in to start Game 7 on the road.
Myers has also been the better hitter in the postseason, but both Myers and Moyer hit under .100 during the regular season. Myers won't get to hit in Game 2 or 6 because of the designated hitter rule. Offense is really a small part of the equation, since there is no guarantee that Myers will continue his offensive display that he started in the NLDS and NLCS.
On the down side, putting Moyer in Game 2 would have put both left-handers back-to-back and followed them up with two right-handers in the Philadelphia rotation.
Part of the consideration also has to be on the situation that they might be pitching in. Myers has been the better pitcher in the postseason, so do you want him pitching Game 2 or would you rather push him off to Game 3 where he would face Matt Garza, Tampa Bay's ace? Remember, that the pitching match-ups would be likely to remain the same for Games 6 and 7, meaning that while Tampa Bay will have their ace for Game 7, the Phillies will be going with their number 3 starter.
Potential rain in Philadelphia Saturday night, which figures to start late in the day with the heaviest rain falling right around game time, makes everything a question mark for the rotation. Game 3 becomes very important, especially if the Rays are to tie the series and head back to Philadelphia at 1-1, but if rains push the game back to Sunday, would the two teams push their starters back - the most likely option - or would they change the rotation? And if they keep the rotation intact for Game 3, do the make a change for Game 4?
As things stand now, Cole Hamels is slated to start Game 5 on Monday, but with a rainout, Monday's game would be Game 4. Would the Phillies keep him on his day-to-pitch schedule and skip over Joe Blanton or would they keep him on his game-to-pitch schedule and push him back to Game 5 on Tuesday.
One other intangible that you simply can't measure. When the Phillies return home for Game 3, the crowd is likely to be going wild. There will be excitement all around. Perhaps, Moyer is the better option to start a game like that, because he is more of a low-key pitcher and is less likely to be caught up in all of the activities that the return to Philly is bound to bring.
It's impossible to say for sure how a pitcher would have fared by pitching in a different location or on a different day. Rest assured though that if Myers and/or Moyer stumble, Charlie Manuel will be questioned about just why he decided not to have them pitching more to their strengths and change the rotation for the World Series. It's also impossible to know for sure that a player is going to perform exactly the same way that they did during the regular season in the postseason. Manuel made the decision to keep everything set and at this point it's hard to argue too much with the job that he has done in getting this team to where they are now.