Over the last four seasons, the Philadelphia Phillies have qualified for the postseason every single year, despite usually suffering injuries to multiple star players during the regular season. In fact, it seems like every year half of the roster spends a significant portion of the season on the disabled list.
Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Placido Polanco, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge. All of them seem to be battling an injury every five minutes or so.
Yet from 2007 to 2010, there really hasn’t been a single instance in which a player has had to miss any of the postseason due to an injury.
That could all change in 2011.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz has been battling groin issues. Ryan Howard has a sore hand. Jimmy Rollins has a strained groin. Placido Polanco has a sports hernia and is on the disabled list. That’s half of your position player starters right there.
Cole Hamels has a “dead arm”. Roy Oswalt’s back is an accident waiting to happen. Joe Blanton may never return from the disabled list. The same goes for Jose Contreras.
Now all of these injuries could be a moot point by the time the postseason rolls around. But if not, the Phillies could be in trouble.
Ruiz is irreplaceable. So is Howard. Rollins too. And Polanco is pretty close to it.
And Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt? Well the Phillies may not survive in the NLDS if they can’t count on the game’s best number three and four pitchers.
The team has 81 wins right now. They have a 99.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason. They’re a virtual lock to win the division and earn home-field advantage in the postseason. They will likely set the franchise’s single-season record for victories.
But at this point, the health of the team’s key players is what is most important. It’s not about Ryan Howard leading the league in RBIs or Cole Hamels pushing for the Cy Young award.
Regular season accomplishments are great but winning the team’s second world championship in four seasons is far more important. If that means resting a bunch of players down the stretch, then Charlie Manuel should do so.