By now, the majority of Phillies fans are stuck in the middle of a deep depression with the realization that ace pitcher Roy Halladay will miss the next six to eight weeks with a lat strain.
Luckily the Phillies will soon get their fourth starter, Vance Worley, back from his brief stint on the disabled list. Worley’s return could come as early as June 4th, meaning the Phillies wouldn’t need to call up Scott Elarton or Dave Bush from Triple-A for an unscheduled emergency start. And that would be a good thing, considering Elarton hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2008 and Bush hasn’t won a game since 2010.
The Phillies are currently 26-24 and tied for last place in the National League East. Will they be able to survive the loss of Halladay for about 10 starts?
Already the national media is writing the Phillies off. They’re saying this will be the end of a team that has already struggled during the first two months of the season.
Although I can be an eternal pessimist when it comes to the Phillies, I do not think that Halladay’s injury spells the end for the Phillies. Rather, I think the Phillies will jump to third or fourth during Halladay’s absence.
I don’t think it’s so much the Phillies. I think that the Mets will begin to fade. They’re 27-22 but they have a run differential of -22. I expect them to be about .500 at the All-Star break.
The Braves are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and the Marlins are one of the hottest teams in baseball, although they still have a negative run differential for the season. The Nationals are still going strong, although I wonder if they can keep it up throughout the season.
If the Phillies can play .500 ball for the next six to eight weeks–and I think they will–they should be okay.
Think about this. The Phillies weren’t winning anyway when Roy Halladay pitched, collecting just a single victory in Halladay’s last eight starts. Kyle Kendrick has actually been very effective filling in as the fifth starter this season, and if he can keep his success up, the Phillies’ starting pitching will still be among the best in baseball.
The offense is quietly picking it up. The Phillies have the most hits in the National League during the month of May, and sometime over the next few weeks, the Phillies will get Chase Utley and probably Ryan Howard back in their lineup. Think it’ll help having those two hitting third and fourth instead of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino?
The Halladay injury is definitely devastating. I can’t deny that. But I don’t know if it’s worse than not having Howard or Utley for the first 50 games of the season.
When Halladay returns to the Phillies’ rotation, I expect the team to be about 48-45, and in third or fourth place in the NL East.
And you know what? That’s okay.
The 2010 squad started 48-46 and finished with the most wins in baseball. I don’t think the 2012 squad will challenge for the most victories in baseball but I do think that they’ll have the veteran leadership (and perhaps a nice midseason acquisition) to make a run at a postseason berth in September, especially with the new addition of the extra wild-card spot in each league.