As I type this post Manny Ramirez has just hammered a 2 run bomb into the Chavez Ravine bleachers to cut the Phillies game 1 lead to 5-4. It’s a great sign for the Dodgers as they’ll need a big series from Manny to have a chance to knock off the defending World Champs. While Manny missed 50 games this season for violating MLB’s drug policy Dodgers RF Andre Ethier emerged as the team’s top clutch hitter. Ethier set career highs in HRs, RBI and OPS in 2009. He hit 4 walk off homers and had a .932 OPS in late and close game situations.
The problem for the Dodgers is that for all Ethier’s heroics he does not fare well against left handed pitching with just a .345 slugging percentage in 187 plate appearances this season. The Phillies feature a rotation of left-handers Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and JA Happ and have the potential to start a lefty in 6 games of the potential 7 game series. Manny will need to catch fire to neutralize Philadephia’s advantage. Manny hasn’t put up typical Manny Ramirez numbers this season and he certainly let down his team and fan base with his suspension. With a career OPS of 1.067 against left-handers Manny will have plenty of opportunities to redeem himself.
As for the ALCS matchup, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia made the curious decision to start Joe Saunders in game 2. Saunders pitched to a 4.41 ERA this season and was 1-1 with a 4.72 in 2 starts against the Yankees this season. Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir will be pushed back to Games 3 and 4.
Yankee Manager Joe Girardi has announced his intention to go with a 3 man rotation for the series and given the amount of rain expected in the Northeast over the weekend he may end up being able to start C.C. Sabathia 3 times in a 7 game series. Sabathia pitched well against the offensively challenged Twins in the ALDS, but he still has some postseason demons to exorcise.