After the Yankees were dominated by Cliff Lee in Game 1 of the World Series many were already writing them off, expecting that, in facing him three times, the Bronx Bombers really no longer stood a chance at victory.
And from a totally shallow, observant perspective, I can see where this idea came from. Lee really was that dominant. And the guy did win a Cy Young award in the American League so there is really no question as to whether or not he is for real. Lee is the Phillies' equivalent to CC Sabathia, and in their first head-to-head battle Lee resoundingly got the best of his former teammate.
But Lee's dominance aside, in my piece analyzing Game 1 cited one big caveat to his performance. He pitched a complete game, throwing 122 pitches in the process (see page 2). Now 122 pitches is a lot for any pitcher and Cliff Lee has never once made a start on short rest. He, unlike Sabathia, apparently cannot be relied upon to take on the extra work. At least in the mind of his manager, and assumingly the pitcher himself.
So instead Joe Blanton will start Game 4, wreaking havoc on the pitching matchups for the rest of the series. Where as before the stage was set up for showdowns between the two aces — Sabathia and Lee — in games 1,4, and 7. Now everything has changed. As Rob Neyer aptly pointed out on ESPN.com, the pitching matchups for the rest of the series will now look like this, highly favoring the Yankees:
Game 4: Sabathia vs. Blanton
Game 5: Burnett vs. Lee
Game 6: Pettitte vs. Martinez
Game 7: Sabathia vs. Hamels
So Charlie Manuel has put himself at a disadvantage in three out of the remaining four games just to gain a less-than obvious advantage in Game 5. While it is universally accepted that Sabathia and Lee can beat one another on any given day and are the two best pitchers on either team, Lee vs. Burnett is potentially only a small improvement for the Phillies in that one game. And by how much?