We may be about to embark on the most competitive and wide open postseasons in baseball history. According to PredictionMachine.com, six teams have at least a 10% chance to win the World Series or higher. If the most likely scenario occurs though, the Philadelphia Phillies will play the New York Yankees for the title (again). In 50,000 simulations of the entire playoffs, Philadelphia wins 17.3% of the time. New York wins 17.2% of the time. Interestingly, not only are those percentages almost identical to each other, they are very similar to the Yankees’ and Phillies’ preseason odds to win the World Series. That means that caliber of the rest of the teams in the playoffs overachieved to the point that neither team drastically increases its likelihood of winning it all even though the field has been slimmed from 30 to 8. It’s wide open.
For much of the season, due to the health and timing of their injuries, Philadelphia’s season did not look so promising. Chase Utley missed 49 games. Jimmy Rollins missed 76 games. Placido Polanco missed 32 games. And Ryan Howard even missed 21 games. That’s the entire infield. They barely played together. With all of those guys healthy and the addition of Roy Oswalt, the Phillies are much closer to who we thought they were going to be when the season started. And even though it’s wide open, if they can all stay healthy, they’re still the most likely World Series champs.
Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins joined the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio to discuss his health, that this version of the Phillies is better than previous years, how difficult it is to sit out during the regular season to stay fresh for the playoffs, Roy Halladay’s contributions to the pitching staff and his team’s confidence heading into the Playoffs.
On his health:
“I feel pretty good man. There’s still some things that I haven’t tested as far as stealing bases. But, other than that, my main concern is being able to go get the ball on the other side of the field. Going left and right, being able to turn double plays. As long as that is in order, I’ll be good. The bat is going to be fine. As long as I don’t re-injure myself, I think I’ll be good.”
On how much he had to fight the urge to play during the season in order to get healthy for the postseason:
“This time, not as much. I was down and out. I knew I really couldn’t go up there and do anything. It also helps that we had a guy in Wilson Valdez that was going out there and doing everything that needed to be done. He was coming up with big hits, making big plays. I was able to relax because he was doing what we needed on defense. But, as an athlete, you do want to get out there. It’s always that macho thing. Do people think I am pushing myself as much as I can? When should I go back? The doctor is saying something when my body is saying something different. There’s a lot that goes into it. You know you are important and an important part of the team. When you have a guy like Wilson, it makes it a lot easier.”
On how this team stacks up to previous Phillies playoff teams:
“We are better. I’ve never had a pitching staff like this. We’ve got the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ as they have been nicknamed. Roy Oswalt has come over and been the pitcher we need him to be. He’s been himself as far as a second half, just unhittable. Big Roy (Halladay), as I call him, he’s the doctor. He goes out there. He performs surgery and he doesn’t leave until surgery is done. And it’s taking pressure off of Cole Hamels who is having a terrific year. He’s got a low three ERA, which is something that I have never seen from him regardless of how good he has been. He has matured. He’s gotten a lot stronger… Our big three are the best in the game right now… It never hurts to get a guy like Doc to come over and inspire guys. His work ethic, the way he goes out there on the mound, the way he pitches. He just goes to school. That’s why they call him the doctor.”
And on if this is as confident as the team has been:
“I would say so. In the locker room right now, the atmosphere is very relaxed. That’s a good thing. You don’t want to go into the situation with everybody tense, not sure of what kind of team you are, not sure of what baseball you are capable of playing. We are playing some really good baseball. People love to say that if a team gets hot, they can make a run. We just went out there and executed. I always think that the team that has the desire to win and execute along with the talent is going to win. The team that makes the fewest mistakes always wins. We have been able to go out there and not make mistakes.”