If you read the quotes from Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon and Roy Halladay yesterday, the Phillies still believe they can save their season.
Crazier things have happened, but they have dug themselves a huge hole and have left themselves little room for error. They are 36-45, the first time they have been nine games under .500 since July 25, 2006. It is their worst record through the first 81 games in a season since 1997, when they were 23-58. The ’97 Phillies finished 68-94, tying the Cubs for the worst record in the National League. The ’12 Phillies are on pace to finish 72-90, a season after winning 102 games. As awful as this team has been, I just can’t see them losing 90 games. But it’s also hard to picture this team going on enough of a run to make a difference.
- The first-place Nationals are on pace for 94 wins. If the Nationals finish with 94 the Phillies would need to finish 58-23 (.716) just to tie. Barring another miraculous finish like 2007, when the Phillies got white hot and the Mets choked, it looks like the Phillies’ run of five consecutive NL East championships is over.
- The Mets and Pirates are tied for the second NL Wild Card with a .538 winning percentage. If one of those teams stays on pace they would finish with 87 wins. The Phillies would need to finish 51-30 (.630) just to tie. That is doable, but they better start winning this week against the Mets and Braves and stop waiting for Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay to come back because nobody knows how effective they will be when they are back.
Another stat for you: The Phillies are 3-10 in Cliff Lee‘s starts. He has a 5.68 ERA in his last eight starts, blowing two three-run leads, one two-run lead and one one-run lead. Imagine if the Phillies were 7-6 in Lee’s starts. They would be 40-41. Imagine if they were 8-5. They would be 41-40. The entire look and feel of this team changes if the Phillies have that record. They look like the sleeping giant in the National League. But right now they look like an aging giant gasping for air.