Two days ago, we prepared for Game 5 of the World Series by wondering if the Rays could step up in the face of two ugly losses and find a way to beat the best pitcher in the post-season to keep their World Series hopes alive. Today, we're still wondering about Game 5, but the complexity of the game has changed entirely. The score is tied at two, we're 5 1/2 innings in, and neither team has played for two days.
The big point that many people are making is that the delay removes Cole Hamels from the equation. That's true, but when the game was suspended on Monday, it was freezing cold and Hamels had just taken a pitch right on his pitching hand while trying to bunt. He didn't look particularly great in the sixth (though the downpour probably aided that as well). The Phillies will lead off the bottom of the sixth by pinch hitting for Hamels, unless Charlie Manuel wants to be remembered for the most insane post-season gaffe since his buddy Grady Little five years ago.
The Rays, meanwhile, have Grant Balfour in the game and he's certainly well enough rested that he doesn't have to come out, which may not have been the case if they resumed on Monday night or even yesterday. In fact, both teams have a full bullpen at their disposal to get them through the final 3 1/2 innings tonight. That probably gives the advantage to the Phillies, who's pen has been better in the playoffs.
So what's the real shift from Monday? Fangraphs has the win probability estimated at 58% for the Phillies and 42% for the Rays based on the score after 5 1/2. They do have an extra at-bat and if you add in the bullpen advantage (however slight), the Phillies chances of winning from a strictly analytical perspective are probably around 60-65% right now. Which means that even though most people are acting like having Hamels out of the game at the end of the sixth is the end of the world, it's really not for the Phils.
What none of these things take in to account, however, are less quantifiable things. Two days ago, the game on Monday felt like anything but a must-win for the Phillies. Even though the Rays would head back home to Shields and Garza with a win in Game 5, they'd been playing so poorly that it was hard to imagine them winning three straight. Do the extra two days increase the pressure on the Phillies? Mental effects are hard to quantify, but if the Phillies lose today, they're heading back in to Tampa they're doing it without a win since Sunday.
If I were on the Phillies, I'd certainly want to close things out tonight. Without doing so, this series will suddenly take on the feel of "the series that won't die" for them, I think. That may or may not really mean anything, but I think there's a lot of pressure on the Phillies tonight to finish this series out in front of the home fans, and I think the delay adds to that pressure. If they can score right away in the sixth, it might not matter. If they can't and the Rays can tack one on in the seventh, it might matter a little more. The thing to remember is that no one in baseball history has ever been in a situation like these two teams are in right now, and figuring out what's going to happen isn't something that's easy to do.
How Does the Delay Change Game 5? originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on 2008-10-29T14:47:00 00:00. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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