That doesn't mean these spots will be any less important, though.
If the Phillies get in a bind with a short start, they could lean on Joe Blanton or even J.A. Happ to work in long relief. This is assuming, of course, manager Charlie Manuel settles on the starting trio of Lee, Hamels and Martinez.
Could Manuel juggle the pieces in his bullpen for the World Series as he did before the start of the National League Championship Series, when he added Chan Ho Park and dropped Brett Myers?
In the playoffs, left-hander Scott Eyre has been alternatively good and not-so-good in stretches. Park has recovered nicely from a hamstring injury, and his velocity looks good, though his command has been shaky. Ryan Madson has blown two saves in the postseason.
Chad Durbin has been reliable in relief and could shoulder more important innings in the World Series.
When the Phillies have needed this crew to pitch well, it has. Take the 5-4 victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS.
Park, Madson, Eyre, and Lidge held the Dodgers scoreless over the final three innings, combining for four strikeouts with two hits allowed.
As for Lidge, who blew 11 saves in the regular season after being such a critical cog in the Phillies' postseason success a year ago, he has been as nasty as he ever was in that World Series run, saving three games in the postseason while not allowing a run in four appearances.
Never let it be said that Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't willing or comfortable using relievers out of the bullpen not named Mariano Rivera.
Sure, Rivera has been plenty good in the playoffs, allowing just one earned run while notching three saves and 11 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings. The Yankees have gotten a lot of mileage out of the pitchers who have preceded Rivera, though.
Take Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Angels when Girardi used seven relievers, leaving Chad Gaudin the last man standing in the bullpen. So don't think that will change in the World Series, as Girardi mixes and matches to get the right combination.
Joba Chamberlain has added depth to a bullpen crew that was pretty deep to begin with. His velocity has been in the mid-90s right out of the chute, which is noticeably harder than what he showed as a starter during the regular season.
Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have gotten plenty of work in the postseason. In their first seven playoff games, the Yankees had a 1.96 ERA from their bullpen with 21 strikeouts in 23 innings.
Phil Coke, David Robertson and Damaso Marte have also pitched well. Robertson struck out 12.98 batters per nine innings, the second-best ratio in the Major Leagues to the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton among pitchers with at least 50 innings during the regular season.
Look for Girardi to use Coke against a tough left-handed hitter. And the Phillies certainly have plenty of those, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez.
Gaudin, acquired from the Padres in August, is an option in case a starting pitcher gets in trouble early in a start. So far, that hasn't happened.
Note: Pitcher evaluations based on a 100-point scale, factoring in all pitching statistics, experience, recent performances and moxie. Click on each expert to see all of their selections for the 2009 World Series.
World Series Setup Men Matchup
|Panelist||Phillies' Setup Men||Yankees' Setup Men||Expert analysis|
|80||70||The Yankees have the depth and the talent over the Phillies but are volatile right now. How will David Robertson look? What's the latest on Phil Hughes? Can Joba build off Game 6? Will Coke and Marte be effective? The Phillies' advantage is that their guys know their roles heading in.|
|77||76||Ryan Madson and Chan Ho Park have struggled in the postseason, so expect Charlie Manuel to mix and match throughout. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have both been erratic in the postseason as well, but Damaso Marte may be the key, as he'll need to neutralize the Phillies' left-handed mashers.|
|85||75||The Yankees don't have a lot of confidence in their young setup guys now, and the Phillies look a little deeper here.
|80||80||Both teams have question marks coming into the WS, as the relief corps leading up to the closer have been inconsistent and somewhat ineffective.
|85||80||Both bullpens have had their issues. Phil Hughes has been struggling, which may force Rivera into more two-inning save situations. The Phillies use everybody and have received clutch setup relief from the ageless Chan Ho Park.
|NR||NR||It's a wash.
|84||91||Manuel has patched his bullpen issues by using starters out of the 'pen, but getting Chan Ho Park back seems to have stabilized the roles. Even at that, the Yankees' combination of Philip Hughes and assorted matchup pitchers is a bit stronger.
|80||75||Phillies bullpen has finally fallen into place. With starters Joe Blanton and J. A. Happ joining Chan Ho Park as setup men the Phillies are solid here. Plus, Charlie Manuel has an uncanny touch at making the right moves in key situations.
Final tally: Phillies 81.6, Yankees 78.1