Pouliot's Keys to Game 1

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*Cliff Lee needs to work deep into the game in order to match CC Sabathia.
The Phillies will likely have to rely a great deal on their pen during Games 2 and 3, so it’s important that Lee provide them with at least seven strong innings. The chances of Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre giving the Phillies quality work in the middle innings will decrease the more than the Yankees get to see them.
*The Yankees will work the count and try to get into middle relief.
The Bombers know they have a big advantage in the later innings, even if Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain aren’t giving them quite what they hoped in setup roles yet. If they can knock Lee out after six, they’ll get to the soft underbelly of this Phillies team.
*Jimmy Rollins has to start something for Phillies.
Rollins is hitting just .244/.279/.317 in the postseason, but he tends to come around once he reaches base. In 11 career at-bats against Sabathia, he’s collected four hits, including a triple and two doubles.

Ryan Zimmerman’s spring training has been . . . weird

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.

While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.

Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.

I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.

On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.