The Philadelphia Phillies are the favorite to win the 2010 World Series.
Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have called for a rematch of the 2009 World Series since the beginning of the season.
Bodog.com has the Philadelphia Phillies as 21/10 favorites. The New York Yankees are 7/2 and the Tampa Bay Rays are not far behind at 9/2.
Let me preface this article by saying that I DO believe that the Phillies will win the World Series.
Philadelphia is not only the best team in baseball, but also the hottest team.
No team wants to play in Citizens Bank Park.
No team wants to pitch to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth. Not to mention Carlos Ruiz, a .302 number EIGHT hitter.
No team wants to start a series by facing Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.
Charlie Manuel's team should win their second championship in the last three years.
However, it is possible that the Philadelphia Phillies will not win the World Series.
Any one of or a combination of these five reasons will be a fine explanation of what went wrong.
The Philadelphia Phillies went through a major slump at one point this season. The weeks surrounding the all-star break were a tense time in Philadelphia.
The offense was so bad that the organization was forced to fire hitting coach Milt Thompson.
For the first time during this three- or four-year run, the pitching carried the Phillies throughout the season.
The addition of Roy Oswalt gave the Phillies the best rotation in baseball. Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay consistency experienced a lack of run support, but still managed to win games for the Phillies.
There is no exact science to predicting an offensive slump. Either the team is not seeing the well or just plain unlucky.
Example: 2009 St Louis Cardinals.
The Philadelphia Phillies did deal with a lot of injuries, which forced Charlie Manuel to change the lineup almost every night.
However, the fact is that for a while, no one stepped up when the team was struggling. For the first time in the last four years, every single player was slumping.
The Philadelphia pitching may carry the team to the World Series without that much run support.
Having said that, the Philadelphia Phillies will not give their fans another parade unless the bats are alive.
Roy Halladay is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young Award. Halladay finished the season with a 2.44 ERA and 21 wins.
He also led the National League in innings pitched with 250.2.
Towards the end of the year, there was a growing concern among the fans that the Philadelphia Phillies' ace was tired.
At some points, he struggled to put away batters and therefore dealt with high pitch counts.
Some of his performance may have been due to the heat, but others questioned Charlie Manuel's handling of Halladay's pitch counts.
Halladay chose to come to Philadelphia to almost guarantee that he would have a chance to win a championship and play in the postseason.
However, Halladay has never pitched into late October and is not playoff-tested.
There is a chance that Halladay may struggle, a very slight chance.
He surely did not exhibit any fatigue in his last start.
Roy Halladay pitched a complete game, without reaching 100 pitches, as the Phillies clinched the NL East title.
Brad Lidge was perfect in 2008. Brad Lidge was unreliable in 2009. Brad Lidge was ____ in 2010.
Brad Lidge struggled in the beginning the season, but has been outstanding of late.
He has converted 18 of his last 20 save opportunities. His devastating slider seems to be in 2008 form.
However, there is never that secure of a feeling when Lidge enters a close game.
He seems to almost allow one runner on base and have the tying run step up to the plate. Lidge actually blew a save against the Cincinnati Reds this season when he gave up a home run to Joey Votto (Phillies still won).
If all goes well, Lidge may not be needed every game as the pitching staff is capable of multiple nine-inning performances.
The fact is that Lidge just cannot blow saves. It is unacceptable in the playoffs, as blown saves can change the momentum of a series.
Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Philadelphia Phillies are so good that they may be able to deal with one or two blown saves.
Although, three blown saves = heading home early.
The Philadelphia Phillies' left-hand relief is by far the team's biggest weakness.
Throughout the year, the team has struggled to find consistency with their left-handers out of the bullpen.
Especially in the seventh and eighth innings of games, left-handed relief has always been a large concern.
Romero finished the season with a 3.68 ERA, but he has been better recently. Not good enough to be reassuring, though.
Throughout his career, Romero has struggled with walking batters and losing his cool. Will Charlie Manuel use him in important situations against left-handed batters?
Matchups become even more important in postseason play. The wrong matchup can lose a game for you in the 7th or 8th inning of the game.
For example you do not want a righty facing Matt Stairs or Jim Thome late in a close game.
Here is a frightening scenario for Phillies fans:
Phillies 3, Reds 2, Top 8, Two men on at second and third, 2 outs
Starter is out, Ryan Madson is currently in, Joey Votto or Jay Bruce step up to the plate (Both Bat Left).
Does Charlie stick with Madson? Put in Romero? Put in Lidge?
If J.C. Romero is the answer, he had better get the job done.
Will Jimmy Rollins be healthy? Even if he is healthy, how effective will he be?
The Philadelphia Phillies have not yet said whether they would start Rollins in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Wilson Valdez has been a great substitute for Rollins this season. He has played solid defense, and that is all one can ask for from the backup shortstop.
However, the Phillies are a lot less dangerous with Valdez in the lineup. He has a tendency to ground into double plays, which can change the momentum of a game.
Jimmy Rollins is a Gold Glove shortstop. He can provide speed on the bases. He is a leader. Most importantly, he is clutch.
However, Rollins has dealt with leg problems throughout the season. The most recent injury is his hamstring, which kept him out for the majority of the stretch run.
The question may be where to put Jimmy in the lineup. Does Shane Victorino stay in the leadoff spot?
He has played in the last five games, where he recorded only four hits. Although one hit was a grand slam.
That grand slam proved that the Phillies need an effective Rollins in the lineup in order to win the World Series.
Rollins may have multiple bad at-bats in a game, but he steps up in big situations.
Wilson Valdez was a nice substitute, but Jimmy Rollins can win games for Philadelphia.