Well, it looks as though the Philadelphia Phillies are creeping back into the race for the NL East. They accomplished their goal of reaching the .500 mark at the All-Star break, despite a lackluster first half by their ace (Cole Hamels) and injuries to other notable players ( Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay). With football season right around the corner, it was necessary for the Phillies to bring back some hope and excitement or the city may have turned its attention to Eagles training camp, which is going to bring in new life and new blood to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time in over a decade.
The Phillies have accomplished the first step in their “Stay Alive” plan, but now comes the hard part. The day before the break the Phillies suffered yet another injury as center fielder Ben Revere broke his foot on a foul ball and now a huge void is at the top of the Fightins lineup. Clearly, the Phillies are going to need to look elsewhere for a solution to the void left by Revere’s injury. As always, the Phillies are all over the rumor mill. Currently, hot names to be traded are Jonathan Papelbon, who blew his fifth save in a month this weekend, and Michael Young, who becomes expendable with the recent success of Kevin Frandsen at third base.
Overall, I think the Phillies did exactly what they needed to do. They hung around long enough to have an outside shot to sneak into the postseason. A better second half by Hamels (who has a sub 3.00 ERA in his last 3 starts) and continued stellar performances by Jonathan Pettibone and Kyle Kendrick, and the Phillies may see the playoffs for the first time in years.
The offense will miss Revere at the top, but veterans Young and Jimmy Rollins can, hopefully, do an adequate job of table setting for first time All-Star Dom Brown, Chase Utley and rookie Darin Ruf, whose primary job in Ryan Howard’s absence will be driving in runs. His defense most likely will be subpar, but as long as he drives in whatever the Phillies may be able to get on ahead of him, the tradeoff between Howard and Ruf will not be negative.
Keys for the second half
- Hamels has to lose only 2-3 games the rest of the season to get the Phillies back into the mix.
- Ruf and John Mayberry Jr have performed above average while filling in for Howard and Revere. There cannot be a huge drop off in production.
- Utley and Rollins needs to stay healthy.
- Pitchers other then Hamels need to continue what they are doing. The team cant afford losses when its fourth and fifth starters are on the mound.
- Shoot for 87-89 wins. The division title is the easier way to get into the playoffs. The way that the teams from the NL Central are playing, it will be difficult to win a wildcard spot. The Phillies need to take advantage of the games they have remaining against Atlanta and Washington.
Phillies first-half grade: B-