If Halsey has taken the bite and went for the carriers and then, a determined Kurita appears through the San Bernardino Straits and positions himself north of Surigao in timely manner with Nishimura (too much "ifs" but let´s remember that this is how the Japanese battle plans were drawn in the first place), we can have an apocaliptic combat here, very much violent and uncertain than the real scenario.
The US forces, even with their numrical superiority will hace only Oldendorf in place to deal with this, aside form the destroyers escorting the light carriers. Maybe Oldendorf will "feel" safe by spliting because he control Surigao, is already "crossing the T" of Nishimura and has RDFC (and it´s daylight). The torpedo boat and destroyer screens south west of Surigao would not be as lethal as in the night action because they could be seen, plainly by the Japanese and engaged. That doesn´t mean they are harmless, only that their aims would be carried in a much difficult manner. Maybe some destroyer or torpedo boat skipper will display some heroic action. And also maybe the Japanese, using daylight and not being cowards a bit, would fight a more resolute battle. I don´t believe, anyway, that Nishimura could pass through to Surigao with even half of Oldendorf units there. But there is an "if" on the other side that could save Nishimura:
If half the BB fleet plus destroyers and everything that can floats engage Kurita´s force then it´s mayhem. But in this combat Kurita has Yamato´s powerfull 18" and the stereoscopic´s range finders and it´s daylight. After early misses, as in the real combat, the Japanese will find the way and nail those old bathtubs which stand not a single chance against such a Japanese force which includes Yamato. I´m not saying that Yamato would deal with them single handed but the whole force will be greater than the sum of their parts:
1 super BB: Yamato
plus half Oldendorf vessels:
The 29 DD and 39 PTs will have to deal with the other forces at Surigao.
That doesn´t seem that "easy" for US forces north of Surigao. Don´t think the US forces could win over the Japanese BB line until Halsey has come back in a hurry.
Maybe that means that McArthur will be in serious trouble.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill