Doom and Gloom for the Philadelphia Phillies?

By Rich MacLeod

Things just are not going great over in the city of brotherly love. The Philadelphia Phillies, without stars Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, continue to slide and it doesn’t seem to get any better. After closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save on Saturday night, his first as a Phillie, he offered $5,000 to any teammate who could deliver a walk-off hit. The man to step up to that challenge was veteran, now mostly pinch-hitter, Jim Thome who delivered a walk-off home run to leadoff the bottom of the 9th inning. It is yet to be known if Papelbon ever actually did pay Thome but it seemed that hey, maybe this could be some kind of turning point in the Phillies season. A bonding moment so to speak. The doubleheader today doesn’t help that theory.

The Phillies, who actually lead the Tampa Bay Rays into the 8th inning in Game 1, blew their 1-0 lead after Carlos Pena hit a go-ahead 3-run home run and the Rays won 3-2. In game 2, Cliff Lee, who still does not have a win struggled again, allowed 5 earned runs in 7 innings and took the loss that dropped him in 0-4 on the season. Today hasn’t been the only tough day this year for the Phillies as they’ve tried to stay afloat while waiting for their stars to return. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to do so. Philadelphia find themselves 6 games under .500 and 9 games back of the first place Washington Nationals in the National League East–a much tougher division than we’ve seen in a very long time.

It hasn’t just been the stagnant station-to-station offense, although it has gotten much better in recent weeks. It’s surprisingly been the pitching. With Roy Halladay, who was also struggling mightily, on the disabled list, the only real bright spot has been Cole Hamels who had a bounce back performance today after a few shaky starts. Cliff Lee and I shouldn’t be tied with wins this year, that just shouldn’t happen. You can say he’s gotten into some bad luck and to a small extent that is true but lately Lee has blown multiple leads and tonight he just got lit up. Remember that Cliff Lee is 33 years old now and he’s not getting any younger. Hopefully, for the Phillies sake, Lee can turn it around because we all know his team needs him to.

Can the Phillies really afford to wait for their stars to return? How far out of it will they be if and when they do come back? And the biggest question: Will it even matter if they do?

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