Our pick: Phils over Yanks in a slugfest

It's the New Jersey Turnpike World Series,  New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies starting tonight in the Bronx. So pack the rain gear, gloves, and a few sawbucks for tolls –- or just sit back in the comfort of your den -- and hope it doesn't snow.

No team has repeated as World Series champion since the Yankees won three in a row in 1998-2000 (including a ‘99 win against the Braves). Philly hopes to be the NL's first repeat champion since Cincinnati's Big Red Machine in 1975-76.

Starting pitching

Yankees: They have the edge here because of CC Sabathia, the lefty load who could get three starts if manager Joe Girardi sticks with a three-man rotation. Sabathia is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in three starts this postseason, with 20 strikeouts and three walks in 22 2/3 innings. In 14 starts since Aug. 8, he's 11-1 with a 1.94 ERA. No. 2 starter A.J. Burnett is in his first postseason and allowed six runs in six innings in his last start. No. 3 starter Andy Pettitte, who just passed John Smoltz with his 16th postseason win Sunday, is 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA in his past 13 postseason starts.

Phillies: Cliff Lee has been as good this October as Sabathia, his ex-teammate (they won the past two AL Cy Young Awards for Cleveland). Entering their Game 1 matchup, Lee is 2-0 with an 0.74 ERA and .165 opponents' average in three starts this postseason, with 20 strikeouts and three walks (same as Sabathia). The Phillies will start veteran Pedro Martinez in Game 2, after he pitched seven scoreless innings (two hits, no walks) against the Dodgers in his first postseason start in five years. Struggling lefty Cole Hamels will try to muster some of his 2008 magic for a Game 3 start. After that, manager Charlie Manuel might return to Lee.

Relief pitching

Yankees: They have the incomparable Mariano Rivera, who showed Sunday he can still go two innings. But Rivera, arguably the greatest postseason pitcher in history, can't do it alone -- can he? -- and so far this postseason, the rest of their bullpen has been shaky in limited duty. Still, Rivera is 8-1 with an 0.77 ERA in 84 postseason games, with 104 strikeouts and 19 walks in 128 innings.

Phillies: The biggest question mark entering this postseason was closer Brad Lidge, who had a majors-leading 11 blown saves this season after converting every save in 2008 from opening day through the World Series. Which Lidge would they get? So far, he's got three saves and a win without allowing a run this postseason. His slider's been sharp and nearly unhittable again, like last season. By the way, he's converted 10 consecutive postseason save chances.


Yankees: It has the makings for an explosive series between the most proficient scoring and homer-hitting teams from both leagues. New York led the majors with 244 homers and the bandbox ballpark surrendered the most homers.  Alex Rodriguez has hit .438 with five homers and 12 RBIs in this postseason, destroying the notion that he shrinks on the biggest stage.  Yankees captain Derek Jeter always produces under pressure but Mark Teixeira is hitting .205 this postseason. The last time the top two homer-hitting teams met in the World Series was 1926.

Phillies: Ryan Howard has hit .359 with five homers and 22 RBIs in his past 17 postseason games, including two homers and 14 RBIs this postseason. The lineup is lined with feisty, hitters with power -- Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino. The Phillies tied Texas for second in the majors in homers (224), and their ballpark yielded the second-most long balls (it should be noted, the Phillies actually hit more on the road).

Defense and intangibles

Yankees: Teixeira hasn't hit much this postseason but has played sensational defense, as usual. It should be noted, the one-time Braves slugger is 9-for-23 against Lee, and has six homers in 14 games at Citizens Bank Park. The Yankees stole 111 bases in 139 attempts.

Phillies: Both teams are solid defensively, with the Phillies having an edge because of the outstanding left side of their infield, the outfield, and improvement by Howard at first base. These two teams also had the highest stolen-base success rates in their leagues, with the Phillies stealing 119 bases in 147 attempts (Utley was 23-for-23).

O'Brien's prediction: Phillies in seven games.