Phillies Nation has done its best all season long to take things one game at a time and not look ahead. The Philadelphia Phillies have had the best team in baseball (on paper and in the standings) since April, and they seem like locks to win the NL East.
Projections on potential matchups are already being published, and it's time the rest of Philadelphia jumps on the playoff bandwagon. The Phillies are going to the playoffs as the five-time defending NL East champions.
They will look to advance to their fourth-straight NLCS, with the ultimate goal of reaching their third World Series in four years. GM Ruben Amaro and manager Charlie Manuel certainly have some tough decisions ahead of them.
This is a complete projection of the Philadelphia Phillies' 25-man postseason roster
The Philadelphia Phillies were built around their starting pitching, and they certainly haven't disappointed in 2011. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels could all finish in the top five of the NL Cy Young voting, and the Phillies have won Vance Worley's last 14 starts during his remarkable (out of nowhere) Rookie of the Year campaign.
Charlie Manuel is an incredibly loyal manager (see Brad Lidge), and I find it hard to believe that he will leave a guy in Roy Oswalt, who owns the fifth-highest career winning percentage among active pitchers, mind you, off the postseason roster. Oswalt has the postseason experience, and he has always shown up, as his career numbers are very solid.
Remember, the Phillies will only need four starters (or Cliff Lee every game) for the playoffs. The rest of the starters are locks and as easy as it gets to project.
Starting Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt
The opposition is hitting just .112 off of Antonio Bastardo this year after 52.1 innings pitched. That is the lowest batting average ever against a pitcher who has thrown at least 50 innings.
I'd say Bastardo is a lock for the postseason roster.
Ryan Madson has had an outstanding season (his last?) with the Phillies and has shown MLB that he is ready to be a full-time closer, so he's certainly in. Michael Stutes may have come off of the cloud that he had been on during his first two months with the team, but he still has proven to be extremely reliable and is in too.
Brad Lidge may have only 12 innings under his belt, but loyal Charlie Manuel will certainly have "Lights Out" on the playoff roster. You can uncover your eyes now—Lidge's name will not be mentioned again in this article.
The aforementioned Vance Worley will be in the bullpen, and it will be interesting to see how he can transition mentally for the switch. Worley will certainly be happy to be on the playoff roster, but will there be any ill will that he isn't starting? Don't count on it.
Kyle Kendrick has been the Phillies long-man for much of the season, and he has even started a few games. In whatever capacity Kendrick has pitched, he has done it pretty well, so he's in.
The seventh spot in the bullpen is the question. Will Charlie Manuel go with David Herndon? He hasn't pitched terribly, but it still puzzles me as to why Charlie is so loyal to him.
Does Manuel feel the need to have another lefty in the 'pen besides Bastardo? If so, seldom-used Juan Perez would have to be the guy.
He could just be a one- or two-batter situational pitcher, saving Bastardo for the setup position in the eighth. Would the Phillies really keep around a guy in Perez who has only pitched five innings this year?
The Phillies will have enough reliable arms in the bullpen with the addition of Worley, and that will allow Manuel and Amaro to add Perez as the situational left-hander.
They'd better get him some innings, though.
Relief Pitching: Bastardo, Madson, Stutes, Lidge, Worley, Kendrick, Perez
The Philadelphia Phillies starting infield of Placido Polanco at third, Jimmy Rollins at short, Chase Utley at second and Ryan Howard at first are all locks for the playoff roster.
The three infielders coming off the bench seem like locks as well.
Michael Martinez will make the playoff roster because of his outstanding arm and ability to pinch-run late in games. Martinez has received his fair share of flak this season, but he was the right player to keep when the Phils optioned Pete Orr.
Wilson Valdez can provide depth at so many different positions, and he seems to have a knack for clutch hits. Valdez is certainly a lock as well.
Ross Gload and his labral tear in his hip will take his league-leading 17 pinch hits into the postseason. Gload's batting average may be suffering in 2011, but he is a professional hitter that Charlie Manuel can trust late in the game.
Carlos Ruiz (Senor Octubre) has been a beast in the playoffs during the Philadelphia Phillies' recent postseason success. Ruiz is quietly having a solid season in which he is hitting over .280 and has added five home runs.
Ruiz has hit .280 with 35 hits in 41 postseason games. He is clutch on offense, but he would be starting at catcher even if he couldn't hit at all. Ruiz manages the game so well for the best starting rotation in baseball, and he is a reliable veteran for any youngster to come out of the bullpen.
Vance Worley, Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo (among a few) all should say thank you to Chooch.
Brian Schneider is a reliable backup catcher who can provide some pop off the bench in the late innings. The combination of those two things mean that Schneider is a lock as well.
Catchers: Carlos Ruiz, Brian Schneider
The Philadelphia Phillies were rejuvenated with the addition of Hunter Pence, and their outfield instantly went from a weakness to a strength. The Phillies have two of their three outfielders that hit over .300 and possess rockets for arms.
Shane Victorino may be the Phillies MVP among guys who play everyday, and Pence has made it even funnier that the Washington Nationals paid $126 million for Jayson Werth. Raul Ibanez is quietly having another good season power-wise, with 18 homers and 72 RBI.
Ibanez is another player that has a history of coming through in the clutch and is a lock for the postseason.
Then there is my main man John Mayberry Jr., who has burst onto the scene during the second half of the season and has become a rock star. No pitcher (or actress) is safe from the 6'6" Stanford-educated Mayberry Jr.
He has hit 13 homers and knocked in 45 runs in limited playing time and could some starting action against a tough lefty. Mayberry Jr. is a lock for the playoffs, but that still leaves one more outfield spot.
Will the Phillies go with a veteran with postseason experience in Ben Francisco or the five-tool prospect who hasn't put it all together yet in Domonic Brown? Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro seem to have a difference of opinion, but Charlie will have the final say on this one.
It seems like ages ago when Ben Francisco was named the successor to Jayson Werth, and the Phillies will go with the younger Domonic Brown on the postseason roster for one simple reason.
He has more potential to go deep than Benny Fran, and that is why he will be on the playoff roster.
Outfield: Pence, Victorino, Ibanez, Mayberry Jr, Brown
The Phillie Phanatic may be the biggest lock on the postseason roster, as the Phightin' Phil's have no chance without the 7-foot monster from the Galapagos. Whether he is harassing pitchers with his spirit fingers or riding around on his four-wheeler pumping up 45,000 fans, the Phanatic is a valuable piece to the Phillies' puzzle.
The award for Most Valuable Mascot would certainly go to the Phillie Phanatic. Let's start the postseason already!