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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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PRETENDER OR CONTENDER: PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

By Joe Nelson
Posted 07/23/2013 at 03:30 PM

Having a lot of extra payroll should make the Philadelphia Phillies an obvious seller at the trade deadline but with a 10-6 mark so far in July the Phillies are within range in the NL East. With Atlanta looking like a team that is not likely to pull away this Phillies team does not feel out of it just yet. Philadelphia is seven games out of first place but they currently sit above the pre-season NL favorite Washington. Philadelphia is just a game below .500 through 99 games and they still have 13 games remaining with Atlanta in which to make up ground.
 
The emergence of Domonic Brown as well as a productive comeback from Chase Utley has kept the Phillies in the mix in a division void of great offensive numbers. Recent injuries to Ben Revere and Ryan Howard are discouraging but the Phillies are still led by a very competent pitching staff. The rotation could get Roy Halladay back in the coming weeks and with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee there are few teams that can match the left-handed power of the Phillies on the mound. Kyle Kendrick has also turned in a great year and John Lannan has so far pitched well for Philadelphia as well. Philadelphia has the 2nd most quality starts in baseball and that has allowed an otherwise marginal bullpen to avoid being on the mound too significantly.
 
In breaking down the numbers for Philadelphia there is not a lot to like. The Phillies are almost a .500 team despite being -46 in run differential on the season. Philadelphia has only played 33 games against winning teams this season and Philadelphia’s solid record is built on going 37-28 against losing teams. The Phillies have six extra-innings wins this season and the record is boosted by going 9-4 against the lowly Marlins. Philadelphia has a winning record against just six of the 18 teams they have faced this season.
 
The next two series will be against St. Louis and Detroit on the road and unless Philadelphia can navigate that stretch to get back above .500 they should probably consider selling whatever assets they can. Atlanta has allowed the rest of the division to stay within reach but the Braves clearly look like the top team in the division with a +75 run differential that is nearly the 2nd best in the NL. The wild card hopes for the Phillies are almost non-existent with three strong teams in the NL Central as well as more viable contenders in the West. Philadelphia was a big disappointment last season at 81-81 and while this year’s team has been close to that pace there is little suggesting they can finish that strong with a tougher schedule ahead in the final two months.

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