Do or Die
- They have lost 12 of 15.
- They are 4-12 in June.
- They are 5 1/2 games behind the second NL Wild Card team with four teams ahead of them in that race.
- The Phillies rotation has a 5.40 ERA since Roy Halladay suffered his back injury May 27. That ranks 14th in the National League and 27th in baseball.
- The Phillies bullpen has a 3.48 ERA in that span, which ranks 8th in the NL and 18th in baseball.
- The Phillies offense is averaging 4.74 runs per game in that span, which ranks 4th in the league and 9th in baseball.
- They are hitting .269 with runners in scoring position, which ranks 7th in the NL and 15th in baseball.
What should we take from those numbers? First, if the Phillies fall much further behind it won’t matter when Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay come back. I think the Phillies can still get on a hot streak, when everybody is healthy, but if they’re 12 behind when they go on a run it’ll get them within — what? — six games? Five games? They have to stay within striking distance. Yes, the Phillies were 7 back with 17 to play in 2007 and won the NL East. Yes, the Cardinals were 10 1/2 back of the Braves on Aug. 25 and won the Wild Card. But two things happened there: the Phillies and Cardinals played out of their minds, and the Mets and Braves suffered historic collapses. You can’t count on both things happening again. If you’re hanging your season on, well, the Cardinals came back last year you’re in trouble.
I pin much of this on the rotation, which still has Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels pitching 2 out of every 5 days. Those are two pitchers you would have said before the season started, “One of them could win the Cy Young.” Is the bullpen too young and inexperienced for a team that is trying to win a sixth consecutive division championship? Absolutely. Could the offense be better with their situational hitting? Yes. But look at where they rank in the league and in baseball during this stretch in those categories. The offense actually has been pretty good, fourth in the league in scoring. The bullpen has been average. The relievers have hurt the team, but I keep going back to the starters. It was the strength of this team before the season started. It was supposed to keep this team in games when there were injuries. Instead, the rotation is the biggest reason why this team is pushing Ruben Amaro Jr. closer and closer to unloading some of his top talent before the trade deadline.
It is getting late very early in Philadelphia.
Phillies broadcaster Gregg Murphy will be guest bartending at Botto’s Italian Line Restaurant tonight to raise money for Team Murphy, his Irish Pub Tour de Shore bike team. The fundraising happy hour starts at 6 p.m. Eagles defensive end Jason Babin also will be there. The night includes a raffle, featuring items from each of Philadelphia’s sports teams.
Botto’s Italian Line Restaurant is located at 1411 Kings Hwy, Swedesboro, NJ 08085.