The hope for the 2012 season was to stay afloat until stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley return from the disabled list. Ace starter Roy Halladay was added to that list when he went down three weeks ago. The Phillies were doing a pretty good job of hanging around and after 53 games were a season-high three games above .500 and just 2.5 games out of first.
Then, simultaneously, the Phillies went ice cold while the Nationals took off. The Phils have gone 3-11 in their last 14 games, dropping to 31-36 and nine game back of first. It hasn't just been their bats this time either. Since Roy Halladay was placed on the DL, the Phils have gone 6-12 and have averaged 5.3 runs allowed per game. Before Doc went on the DL, they were allowing 3.9 per game. Here is some more ugliness since Halladay went to the shelf:
Cliff Lee: four starts, 0-14.72 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
Cole Hamels: four starts, 2-2 6.07 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Joe Blanton: four starts, 2-2 5.74 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
Kyle Kendrick: three starts, 1-2 7.80 ERA, 1.80 WHIP
Vance Worley: three starts, 0-1 2.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
Only Worley has been effective during this stretch. It's also been 19 games since the Phillies won a game where they scored fewer than six runs. That's asking a lot out of an offense that is forced to roll the Hector Luna's and Mike Fontenot's of the world out there on a consistent basis.
So the question has been asked many times recently: are the Phillies doomed?
Taking a look at the June 17th standings the previous four years, the answer is no. Teams that were in first place or would have been the league's wild card representative if the season ended on June 17 have made the playoffs 68.8 percent of the time. Naturally that indicates that 31.2 percent of the time a team that is not in the field on June 17 has made the playoffs.
This time last season, the Red Sox, Indians and Giants were all in first place and failed to make the playoffs. The Braves would have been the wild card team on June 17 and collapsed as well, so the percentage was 50 percent last year.
Even more drastic, the 2005 Houston Astros went on to win the National League pennant. Want to know what their record was on June 17, 2005? How about 27-38.
Two seasons earlier, the Florida Marlins won the World Series. Their record on June 17, 2003 was 34-38. Last year's World Champs were 38-33 on this date and the AL pennant winners, the Texas Rangers, were 37-34.
The Phillies still have hope, but a number of things need to turn around to go on a run like the '05 Astros, the '03 Marlins, the '07 Rockies or the '10 Phillies who were 34-30 and in third place.
- Utley and Howard must come back and produce near the all-star level we are accustomed to seeing from them.
- Halladay must return to his Cy Young ways.
- Lee needs to pitch like a $21-million pitcher.
- Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino need to return to their catalyst ways setting the table for the big boppers to drive in.
- Someone, anyone needs to step up in the bullpen besides Jonathan Papelbon.
- Charlie Manuel needs to pitch Papelbon more in tight games. Eight walk-off losses in which Papelbon didn't even pitch, is beyond unacceptable.
Yes, things aren't looking good for the '12 Philadelphia Phillies but it's far from over. A number of teams have "righted the ship" and made their way to the postseason. It's a tall order this season, but it can be done.