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1. Who has the advantage in the Game 3 pitching matchup, Mussina or Beckett?

I believe the Mike Mussina-Josh Beckett matchup favors Florida. The Marlins' goal was to leave New York with a split, and they did just that. And now their best pitcher takes the ball for pivotal Game 3.

 

Beckett is on a roll, and his confidence must be soaring. In NLCS Game 7 vs. the Chicago Cubs, he was the difference after the Cubs took a 5-3 lead (four innings of one-hit, one-run relief).

 

Beckett

Beckett

Before that, with the Marlins facing elimination -- trailing the Cubs in the series 3-1 -- Beckett pitched a two-hit shutout in NLCS Game 5.

 

Mussina has had a couple of shaky starts in the postseason, although he saved the Yankees with his scoreless relief effort in Game 7 against the Boston Red Sox.

 

With the Marlins at home, you've gotta like their chances -- as well as their incentive to take the series lead -- with their ace on the mound.

 

2. What effect will the shift to the warm environment have on pitchers? Will it benefit the Marlins or Yankees more?

I don't expect the weather to favor anyone. Just about everyone enjoys playing in the warmer weather.

 

The Florida Marlins are more comfortable at home, although the New York Yankees are used to the pressure of playing on the road in the postseason. In the 1996 World Series, the Yankees lost the first two at Yankee Stadium to the Atlanta Braves, and then won the next four, including three in Atlanta. I never would have expected that.

 

So the Yankees don't get rattled on the road in October. But I believe they have a serious home-field advantage at Yankee Stadium, especially if this series gets to Games 6 and 7.

 

3. After back-to-back rough outings, should Redman continue to start for the Marlins? If not, then who?

Even though he's a rookie, Dontrelle Willis should get the start in Game 6 (assuming the series goes that far, which I think will happen). Mark Redman has struggled this postseason (6.50 ERA), including the Game 2 loss to the Yankees.

 

Willis started strong this season. He was one of the keys to the Marlins' resurgence, helping shore up the rotation after key injuries to A.J. Burnett (season-ending) and Beckett (disabled-list stint). True, Willis faltered some in the second half, but he has much better stuff than Redman.

 

Willis goes after hitters in attack mode, while Redman's goal is to get hitters out of the strike zone, trying to induce them to chase the changeup. Both Willis and Redman are left-handers, which is helpful against a Yankee lineup featuring left-handed threats like Jason Giambi and Nick Johnson (also forcing switch-hitters Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams to bat right-handed, not their strong suit). But Willis' funky delivery is especially tough on left-handed batters.

 

If I were a Marlins' fan, I'd prefer to see Willis on the mound rather than Redman in Game 6.

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