Back To The Soft NL East
Here at Frank Helps You Think It All Out, I did a pretty good job holding it together this past month. Yes, the Phillies certainly played a quality of baseball that was hard to internalize. Near the beginning of June, pointing out the Phillies suspect rotation, their .500-ish record ex-Nats and brutal June schedule, I opined I would be satisfied with a slightly below .500 month and remaining in first place.
Well, the Phillies just could not get there. After opening with a smart 7-3 road swing thru the west and Mets, things unraveled against the AL East much like last year. A sweep at home versus Atlanta did not help- but the Mets provided a restorative. Let’s call that the end of the brutal stretch (as last night’s 22-1 beat down indicates, home versus the Reds and Pirates is a significant step down)- and mark those thirty-one games at 14-17.
Look, those AL East teams were a bad match-up for a Phillies team dealing with rotation problems and a bullpen down a pair of effective members (Lidge and Eyre). Throw in the absence the of the team’s best first half player-Raul Ibanez- and a slumping Madson, there were apt to be problems.
Let’s face it, Toronto or Tampa Bay would be real contenders to win NL East. Baltimore would be an 85 win team over here. Those big AL East offenses go right at the Phillies pitching problems- see the two Toronto series. And there was a lot of travel too. I’m inclined to give the Phillies a pass- and suspect now that they are back to playing the National League, teams that generate less offensive pressure, the Phillies will soon be back to playing .570 ball. Certainly, the last four games suggest the competition is a little softer here, away from the AL East powers.
Ultimately, Philadelphia is pretty much where they started, except substitute the Marlins for the Mets- and make it a four game lead in the loss column rather than two. They still need to add a pitcher- but I have a feeling this lead will be eight games before Labor Day.