Saturday, October 25, 2003
SLIGHT POSSIBLE DOWNSIDE TO A MARLINS' VICTORY TONIGHT
From today's Larry Mahnken's Replacement Level Yankees Weblog:
I dread defeat. I can visualize that moment in the postgame, where Bud Selig hands the World Series trophy over to Jeff Loria, and in that instant, as they both touch it, that trophy becomes a conduit through which so much evil passes that it explodes in a blinding flash of red light, and breaks open a vortex in the Visitors' Clubhouse, destroying all of civilization, and through which pass the terrible minions of Satan, bringing down 10 million years of darkness upon mankind for allowing such evil to not only exist, but triumph.And my girlfriend teases me for caring so much about "just a game".
LET THE SECOND GUESSING BEGIN
Like a double-steal in the bottom of the ninth, or going first to third with two outs, McKeon's playing it aggressive (and a little risky) again.
As I’m sure you know by now, the Marlins manager is going with Beckett tonight on short (3 days) rest.
It’s a bold move, but certainly justifiable. Up 3 games to 2, McKeon clearly doesn’t want to let the Yankees extend the series to a winner take all finale tomorrow.
I know the track record on using starters on short rest isn’t great, but provided McKeon learns from Macha’s mistake and is fairly conservative how many innings/pitches he expects from Beckett (Zito was brilliant in Game 5 against Boston until he started falling apart in the 6th—around 85 pitches or so), this could work out very well. Beckett hasn’t been pushed too hard this postseason, and I’m willing to believe he’s wily enough to get by on less than best stuff.
Whatever it says about McKeon’s faith in Beckett (and to some extent I-traded-away-Pedro-Martinez-and-all-I-got-in-return-was-Carl Pavano, should it go to Game 7), I’m also guessing the move is as much influenced by McKeon liking his offense’s chances against Pettitte tonight than against Mussina tomorrow.
That might seem strange given Pettitte’s reputation for shutting down the running game (supposedly the Marlins’ strength). But the right-handed sluggers in the Marlins order have done very very well against lefties this year (Rodriguez 1.033 OPS, Lowell 1.050 OPS, Lee 1.062 OPS, Cabrera 1.051). Regardless if Pierre and Castillo are held in check on the base paths, McKeon must be thinking that Beckett doesn’t have to be 100% (which he probably won’t) to give his club a good chance to win tonight.
It’s not a perfect plan. Pettitte will be pitching on full rest, and he did have a brilliant Game 2 against the Fish (8.2 IP, 6 H, O ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 111 pitches). He’s also that rare lefty who fares better against right-handers (whom he limited this year to a .687 OPS) than against fellow lefties (.783). But I agree with McKeon that his chances are still better against Pettitte in Game 6 than Mussina (.666 v. RH, .629 v. LF) in Game 7.
Yet my gut still says Beckett should start Game 7 instead. Granted, I also thought giving Schilling three starts in the 2001 World Series was a mistake—and we all know how badly that turned out. And I've been dead on right so far in my predictions about how the other managers should best use their starters so far this postseaon. So, yeah, I'm really someone you should be listening to.
I can't wait to see how it turns out.