We agreed to do a little role reversal with our opposite SBNation blog, and look at the World Series from their team’s perspective. Please see Pinstripe Alley’s "The Phillies will win if…" piece here.
The Yankees will win the Series if…
1. Brad Lidge 2009 shows up for the World Series. Shutdown relief pitching is one of the keys to postseason success. And the Yankees, with Mariano Rivera, are certainly not going to give the Phillies any leeway in that regard. I expect a close Series, and one game blown in the late innings could make all the difference.
2. CC Sabathia continues to dominate. You can deal with an opposing pitcher shutting your team down for one game, maybe two. But if someone can shut you down for three games, you’re basically toast.
3. The Phillies hitters allow the all of the Yankees starters to go deep into ballgames. With a strong front-end of the rotation, and a sterling backend of the bullpen, the Yankees’ erratic middle relief seems to be the closest thing they have to a soft underbelly. You want as many hacks as you can get against the likes of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, etc.
4. Alex Rodriguez keeps impressing Kate Hudson. Rodriguez has been legendary this postseason, all but exorcising the demons of his prior postseason "underperformance." No one has more talent, or more incentive to succeed, than Rodriguez. He could blow this Series wide open.
5. A.J. Burnett pitches to his contract. It was a weird year for Burnett – he certainly wasn’t terrible, but he had more than a few terrible games (including one against the Phillies in May), with the not infrequent masterpiece mixed in. The man is an enigma, but if "Good A.J." shows up for the Series, the Phillies are in big trouble.
6. Chase Utley continues to struggle. The rest of the lineup really picked up the slack for Utley in the NLCS, but you can’t rely on the likes of Carlos Ruiz to bail out your best player when he’s slumping. The uncharacteristic throwing errors seem to have dissipated, but their reappearance could be a huge problem for the Phillies.
The Yankees are by far the best team the Phillies have faced during their 2008-2009 playoff runs. Win or lose, expect the Series to play out that way.