Pedro's start adds a little more spice to this World Series

Updated: October 28, 2009

Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire

Pedro Martinez has never been shy, and he returns to the World Series stage Thursday for Game 2.

It's a fascinating matchup for Game 2 of the World Series because Pedro Martinez is not only making the start for Philadelphia, but the game is at Yankee Stadium. At the old stadium, Martinez had some memorable games -- both good and bad.

I was there the night he struck out 17 Yankees, which was the most ever against a Yankees team. He was the starting pitcher in the famous game in which he was left in by then-Red Sox manager Grady Little a little too long and the Red Sox lost in 2003. And, of course, he called the Yankees his "daddy." It'll be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets, but it will be tremendous theater no matter what.

Martinez was not even pitching in the majors for half of this season, but he has thrown very well for the Phillies and was exceptional in his most recent start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. If he's able to throw that well again, the Yankees will definitely have their hands full.

A.J. Burnett will start for the Yankees, and he remains an enigma in that no one can hit him when he's right and yet he can unravel as quickly as any good pitcher that we've seen. In his most recent start against the Angels, he gave up four runs in the first inning for the first time in his career and threw five shutout innings. If he's right, the Phillies will have their hands full.

From the beginning of the World Series I hoped, for the sake of the story, that Martinez would pitch against Burnett in Game 2 at Yankees Stadium. That's what we're going to get.

The difference-maker in Game 2 will be Martinez's command of his changeup. It is a difficult pitch to command in cold weather. Even though it won't be brutally cold in New York, it will be enough to alter his pitching. People say that he's not a good cold-weather pitcher, but given the magnitude of this game and the interest level in it, Martinez won't be bothered by the weather and will have a successful night.

My prediction for Game 2 is a Yankees victory, but I don't think it will be because they pound Martinez. Instead, Burnett just seems due for a good start.

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The last time Pedro Martinez faced the Yankees in a postseason game in the Bronx, he was striking out batters with his fastball, which averaged 92 mph and hit 97 on the radar gun in the fall of 2004.

This time around, Pedro's fastball averages just 89 mph. He's relied on his off-speed stuff to fool batters. One of the keys to Pedro's success this season has been his ability to get outs when behind in the count.

Pedro Martinez when behind in the count (2009)
MLB avg.
OPS against .447 1.075
Chase pct. 23.0 19.0
Miss pct. 28.0 18.0
Strike pct. 72.0 66.0

-- ESPN Stats & Information


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12:30 a.m. ET
Host: Karl Ravech
John Kruk, Dave Winfield, Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjian, Bobby Valentine, Chris Singleton



Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at Pedro Martinez's history against the Yankees. Martinez is set to go for the Phillies in Game 2 on Thursday.

Pedro Martinez vs. Yankees
Regular season, by location
Home Road
ERA 3.46 2.95
IP-H 106 2/3-87 110-83
K-BB 127-38 134-25
Starts 16 16

-- Martinez is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three postseason home games against the Yankees. He is 0-1 with a 6.28 ERA in three postseason road games against New York.