People always tend to point fingers at different players when a team begins to struggle. But who should take the blame for the Phillies' recent struggles in the NLCS?
Jimmy Rollins is always a fan favorite in Philadelphia, but he could be the odd piece to the puzzle right now. With several injuries to his lower body, including the nagging hamstring injury suffered late in the season, J-Roll is out of his game.
While Rollins had the key hit Game 2 of the NLCS, roping a three-run double off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. However aside from that hit, Rollins has really struggled in the series with only three hits.
The hamstring injury may not be what is holding back the former MVP, but rather his confidence in his leg. Rollins is not quite at 100 percent yet, but is not in a condition where he can’t play. On the field, he seems nervous to try to push his hamstring to any extent.
The biggest example of this showed in the ninth inning of Game 3.
After lining a ball of the wall in right, Rollins quickly scampered back to first base after the ball was quickly thrown back in by outfielder Nate Schierholtz. At 100 percent, Rollins would have easily stretched the hit into a double.
But it did not stop there.
On the game-ending double-play ball, Rollins loafed it into second base, not even making an attempt to break up the double play. Was it laziness, lack of confidence in the bottom of the lineup or his hesitance to push his hamstring to the limit?
In my opinion it was his hesitance. Players, however, cannot be hesitant in the postseason. This is where you go all out and lay it all on the line because there are no second chances.
Wilson Valdez did an excellent job of filling in for the injured Rollins throughout the majority of the season. The table below shows a comparison of the stats for the two shortstops.
|Jimmy Rollins||Wilson Valdez|
|Runner on 3rd, Less than 2 Outs RBI||55%||45%|
Both have very similar numbers. Valdez has played more games this year than Rollins and has no errors. Rollins, on the other hand, has four on the season.
Both have the same number of doubles and triples. Valdez’s only downfall is hitting into double plays. Valdez grounded into 20 double plays on the year, while Rollins only did so four times.
So what should Charlie do?
In his opinion, Rollins has to be on the field because of his leadership and his overall presence. In my opinion, Valdez almost has to start at shortstop tonight. Manuel has already switched up the lineup from the NLDS to the NLCS to have the best possible batter/pitcher matchups throughout the lineup.
Throwing Valdez into the equation gives you speed, a sure-handed fielder and a potential run producer at the plate. It also gives you a player who is playing at 100 percent.
It will be interesting to see what Manuel decides to do with the Phillies in need of a win to bring the series back to Philadelphia. The team needs a change to spark some offense and produce runs. The starting pitchers are keeping them in the games and giving them a chance to win, but the offense is not getting the job done.
Valdez could be that missing piece to the puzzle to get the team going.