Florida used their ace Josh Beckett in their game seven as well as starters Mark Redman and Brad Penny. The Yankees did much the same, using starter Roger Clemens and David Wells and Mike Mussina out of the pen. With all the insanity, the starters for game one of the World Series are still undetermined – although Florida has announced that Penny will go for them.
So who starts for the Yankees? David Wells is the current favorite – he only threw six pitches on Thursday – and hasn't really pitched since game five. Andy Pettitte, Jose Contreras and even Jeff Weaver are even possibilities that Joe Torre has mentioned. Right now though it looks like Wells is the man for the Yanks.
Speaking of starting pitching, I've got a feeling that that is where this series will be decided. The Yankees starters are much more experienced and have much better career records than the kids on Florida's roster. Florida's five starters (Redman, Penny, Beckett, Willis and Pavano) have 147 career wins between them. The Yankees starting four (Wells, Clemens, Mussina and Pettitte) have 858.
But pitching isn't nearly the whole story here. What's very intriguing about the matchup is the stark difference between these offenses. In something of a stereotypical American League vs National League manner, the Yankees are a prototypical power team, built around the long ball (for better or worse) and the walk. The Marlins are built for speed, singles and sacrifice bunts, but can flash the power as well with their AL-converted catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. But hey, with Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano and Aaron Boone, the Yanks are no slouches on the basepaths themselves.
The bullpen is where things get dicey. The Yankees bullpen seems to be either really good (see game seven) or really bad (see game six) without much middle ground. The Marlins' bullpen falls into that middle ground pretty well. Ugueth Urbina is good, but he likes to make things interesting sometimes, same for Braden Looper. Chad Fox is probably their most consistent reliever, but he's enjoying his best season and is far from a proven commodity.
Defensively is probably where the Marlins have the Yankees' number, at least in the infield. Pudge Rodriguez is still the best defensive catcher I've ever seen, and they are better than solid at every base. The outfield is a little iffy at times, with Miguel Cabrera learning right field on the job and Juan Pierre in centerfield more for his speed than his glove. But one thing is sure, the Marlins aren't going to beat themselves, and the Yankees can't either.
Doing the position thing:
|Beckett, Redman, Penny, Willis||Starters||Mussina, Pettitte, Clemens, Wells|
The catcher position was a toughy, because both players bring so much to their teams. So there's a push for you. I'm counting Giambi as the 1B this time around because the DH rule won't be in effect at Pro Player. That being said, Encarnacion probably won't be the DH for the Fish. More likely he'll play right field and Cabrera will DH. Or Cabrera can play third and Lowell can sit. Its fun to manage. The bullpen isn't really a strength for either team, but the Yankees have a big advantage in the bench area which could be useful. Only Encarnacion is a good option off the pine for the Marlins, while the Yanks have Ruben Sierra and Juan Rivera or Karim Garcia.
I'm terrified to make a prediction about this series. These teams match up rather well on paper, playing off each other's strengths and weaknesses oddly well. What scares me the most is the similarities between these Marlins and the 2002 Angels that did the Yankees in so mercilessly. The biggest difference between those two teams it the bullpen, and the fact that the Angels had a consistent power threat or two in their lineup.
For all the naysayers out there that are calling this the worst possible matchup for Major League Baseball, I say "feh" to that. This will be one heck of a series because here's the bottom line: neither of these teams will go down without a serious freaking dogfight. The Marlins proved that against the Cubs, the Yankees proved that against the Sox, and they're going to prove it to us again in the next week.
Bottom Line: Yanks in Seven.