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Postseason Position Debates

As we approach the Postseason, baseball writers and fans alike will be dissecting the line-ups and rotations of every team likely headed to October. They will discuss who will be the fourth man in a pitching rotation and who will be the starting shortstop between two less than fantastic options. In October, every player is counted on to contribute if a team has any hope of winning the title, and for that reason, there is more scrutiny than usual regarding even the smallest roster decisions.

For instance, the Phillies have a big decision to make. Obviously, the first three guys in their rotation are set. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels make up what could be the most vaunted playoff rotation in the history of baseball. This season alone they have combined to win 47 games and lose only 19. They have each pitched at least 194 innings and have ERAs under 2.60. In short, there may never be another team that heads into the Postseason with higher expectations from a pitching perspective than the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies.

However, one decision must still be made. If there comes a time in the Postseason when a fourth starter is called for, who will the Phillies turn to? They have two solid options, but the two guys couldn't be any more different. The veteran, experienced option is Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has had an up and down 2011, during which he has missed time to deal with both injury and personal matters, and those struggles have been reflected in his play. He has won just seven games and has an ERA approaching 4.00. That being said, he is a veteran starter with 10 Postseason starts under his belt, and that counts for quite a bit. The other guy in the equation is rookie Vance Worley, who has been sensational in his first season with the Phils. He has started 18 games for Philadelphia in 2011, winning 11 and losing just one. He has a 2.85 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, and batters are hitting just .229 against the young righty. In his last 10 starts dating back to July 15, the Phillies are 10-0, and Worley has picked up the win in seven of those games.

So, who will the Phillies choose? From a numbers standpoint, the choice seems clear. Worley has given the Phillies the opportunity to win nearly every time he has taken the mound, but the Postseason is a different ballgame, pun intended. Will Charlie Manuel trust a rookie to take the ball in a pivotal game when he has a guy with tons of playoff experience sitting on the bench?

If you're asking me, I think he should. For Worley to have pitched as well as he has, sitting him down when the Postseason arrives would be a serious blow to the young man's self-esteem. He has done everything that the Phillies could have hoped for and more, and he deserves a shot to pitch under the bright lights of October.

The Boston Red Sox are facing a similar conundrum at shortstop, where both Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro are capable, if not ideal, options. It appears to me that Scutaro should be the Sox starting shortstop when October rolls around if his current level of play is given any bearing. He is hitting .308 with a .816 OPS over his last 16 games and is playing his usual steady defense. Plus, with Kevin Youkilis recently undergoing an MRI for a hip injury that has been plaguing him all season, Lowrie has been thrust into the line-up at third base. If Youkilis' injury is more serious than the Red Sox believe, finding playing time for both Scutaro and Lowrie becomes much easier. If Youkilis is healthy, I think Scutaro will get the majority of the playing time, if he continues to play as well as he has, and Lowrie will be used as a fill in player and pinch hitter. At this time of year, it pays to go with the hot hand, and right now, that's Scutaro.

Questions like these will become more and more prevalent as we roll toward October. It's what makes this time of year so exciting.

Let me know what other questions you think your team should be answering by tweeting me @rwags614.

As we approach the Postseason, baseball writers and fans alike will be dissecting the line-ups and rotations of every team likely headed to October. They will discuss who will be the fourth man in a pitching rotation and who will be the starting shortstop between two less than fantastic options. In October, every player is counted on to contribute if a team has any hope of winning the title, and for that reason, there is more scrutiny than usual regarding even the smallest roster decisions.

For instance, the Phillies have a big decision to make. Obviously, the first three guys in their rotation are set. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels make up what could be the most vaunted playoff rotation in the history of baseball. This season alone they have combined to win 47 games and lose only 19. They have each pitched at least 194 innings and have ERAs under 2.60. In short, there may never be another team that heads into the Postseason with higher expectations from a pitching perspective than the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies.

However, one decision must still be made. If there comes a time in the Postseason when a fourth starter is called for, who will the Phillies turn to? They have two solid options, but the two guys couldn't be any more different. The veteran, experienced option is Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has had an up and down 2011, during which he has missed time to deal with both injury and personal matters, and those struggles have been reflected in his play. He has won just seven games and has an ERA approaching 4.00. That being said, he is a veteran starter with 10 Postseason starts under his belt, and that counts for quite a bit. The other guy in the equation is rookie Vance Worley, who has been sensational in his first season with the Phils. He has started 18 games for Philadelphia in 2011, winning 11 and losing just one. He has a 2.85 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, and batters are hitting just .229 against the young righty. In his last 10 starts dating back to July 15, the Phillies are 10-0, and Worley has picked up the win in seven of those games.

So, who will the Phillies choose? From a numbers standpoint, the choice seems clear. Worley has given the Phillies the opportunity to win nearly every time he has taken the mound, but the Postseason is a different ballgame, pun intended. Will Charlie Manuel trust a rookie to take the ball in a pivotal game when he has a guy with tons of playoff experience sitting on the bench?

If you're asking me, I think he should. For Worley to have pitched as well as he has, sitting him down when the Postseason arrives would be a serious blow to the young man's self-esteem. He has done everything that the Phillies could have hoped for and more, and he deserves a shot to pitch under the bright lights of October.

The Boston Red Sox are facing a similar conundrum at shortstop, where both Jed Lowrie and Marco Scutaro are capable, if not ideal, options. It appears to me that Scutaro should be the Sox starting shortstop when October rolls around if his current level of play is given any bearing. He is hitting .308 with a .816 OPS over his last 16 games and is playing his usual steady defense. Plus, with Kevin Youkilis recently undergoing an MRI for a hip injury that has been plaguing him all season, Lowrie has been thrust into the line-up at third base. If Youkilis' injury is more serious than the Red Sox believe, finding playing time for both Scutaro and Lowrie becomes much easier. If Youkilis is healthy, I think Scutaro will get the majority of the playing time, if he continues to play as well as he has, and Lowrie will be used as a fill in player and pinch hitter. At this time of year, it pays to go with the hot hand, and right now, that's Scutaro.

Questions like these will become more and more prevalent as we roll toward October. It's what makes this time of year so exciting.

Let me know what other questions you think your team should be answering by tweeting me @rwags614.