After a long period of desolation, the wins just keep coming for the Philadelphia Phillies as for the first time this season, the team has reached a five-game winning streak.
While the recent success has been great for fans and players alike, it has been more of a necessity. Now in second place in the NL East, the Phillies’ winning streak unfortunately hasn’t helped them gain ground on the first-place Atlanta Braves, who themselves are on a five-game winning streak.
But nevertheless, things are finally starting to come together for the Phillies. Ironically enough, it is happening without Chase Utley, Roy Halladay or Carlos Ruiz either in the lineup or on the mound.
Young arms have been the key for Philadelphia’s success this season. Well young arms and Cliff Lee. Combined, Lee and his three mentees under the age of 28, have been fantastic posting a record of 18-8. Lee himself, with a 7-2 record and ERA under 2.50, has emerged as a potential Cy Young candidate early in the season.
During the five-game winning streak which began June 2, each of the four has pitched a game. Kyle Kendrick threw a complete game, Tyler Cloyd pitched 6.2 shutout innings, Jonathan Pettibone gave up one earned run in six innings and Lee struck out 11 and gave up three runs in 7.2 innings. Even struggling ace Cole Hamels pitched well, throwing seven innings of four-hit ball en route to just his second win.
This isn’t exactly surprising that great pitching has yielded great results. After all, this is a Phillies team that was built around its starting staff, a core of Hamels, Halladay and Lee. The unspectacular offense was always meant to bolster the pitching as it is once again doing in the streak.
Five straight wins is nice, but realistically, what can be expected of this team going forward?
With young players developing right before our eyes, it seems the absence of Utley and the struggles of Ryan Howard have not been as damaging as they could have been. But for these role players to continue their pace, namely Domonic Brown’s torrid home run streak, it certainly won’t be easy.
For the Phillies though, it may not come down to Brown’s home runs or the young pitching success. What you are seeing played out on the field now, finally, are players knowing their roles and using that to their success.
While this may not guarantee a spot in the postseason, it has the Phillies on a role and is bringing some of that lost life back to the city. And who knows, maybe this improbable group won’t languish in third or even second place. A spot in the playoffs is not out of the question and if the Phillies continue to play like they are, it could become a reality.