Monday, July 1, 2013

Weekend Recap: Things aren't looking too good, but maybe there is still hope

July 1, 2013

By Nick Tricome

A blowout win on Friday night, then two deflating losses on Saturday and Sunday.

After losing three of four to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies (39-44) are 9.5 games back of first place in the National League East. Now they have to go play the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have the best record in the NL.

With 13 games left until the All-Star break, the Phillies are in a jam to say the least.

In the past, situations like these were something that the Phillies thrived on.

In 2007 and 2008 they rallied to surpass the Mets in the final days of the regular season to take the division crown.

In 2010, after hovering around the .500 mark for much of the middle part of the season, they rallied again to pass the Braves and win the division with the best record in baseball.

But the Phillies had great hitting in the first half of what would become a five-year span of success, then had great pitching in the latter.

This year's Phillies have had trouble with pitching and hitting, and now their backs are against the wall.

But although they have their shortcomings, does this team have enough to pull off one more run to the postseason?

"We've been in much tougher positions with much less time," Jimmy Rollins told's Todd Zolecki after Sunday night's game.

While Rollins' words are true, the Phillies were able to get out of these tough situations with a core of him, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard at the plate in the prime of their careers.

Now all three players are in their mid-30's, and in Utley and Howard's case, have had multiple injury problems to deal with.

Timely pitching from Cole Hamels, and then later from guys like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, also helped the Phillies dig themselves out of a hole.

But Hamels isn't having a very good season and Roy Halladay is hurt. Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick have pitched well, and although Kendrick suffered a mild concussion after being hit by a pitch in Sunday's game, he said he could be ready in time for his next start.

Jonathan Pettibone has been okay, he has had his share of good and bad starts. As for John Lannan, he has missed a lot of time due to injury, so the jury is still out on him for now.

What about the bullpen? Well, let's not go into very much detail about that. To sum it up quickly, pitching relief has a lot of holes too.

According to Zolecki, the Phillies have a .610 winning percentage following the All-Star break, including last year, when they missed the playoffs and had to deal with many of the same problems they have now.

This sentence was uttered a lot last year, but the inclusion of a second wild card spot really opens things up.

Unfortunately, the Phillies couldn't capitalize on it last year. However, despite all of the problems this team has, maybe they can make the postseason one last time with one more good second half run. It doesn't matter if it's for the division or for one of the two wild card spots.

If they don't make it however, then fans could very well be saying goodbye to long time Phillies at the trade deadline.

This is the hand the Phillies have been dealt. Now they have to go all in with, what looks like, one last chance at a winning hand.

(Image from The Washington Post)

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