With an aging roster and questions about their depth, few expected the Philadelphia Phillies to challenge for the NL East divisional crown before the season began. Even fewer expected them to sit at the bottom of the division come July, however.
And yet, 81 games into the season that is just where we find them.
Little has gone right in Philadelphia this season. Chase Utley appears to still be going strong at age 35, producing at an All Star caliber clip while serving as the team’s lone offensive standout. Ryan Howard has shown glimpses of his old power stroke – having already topped his home run totals from 2012 and 2013 – after two injury-shortened seasons but continues to swing wildly at the plate, already amassing over 100 strikeouts on the season. Ben Revere has proven useful on the basepaths but has difficulties first getting on base.
Cole Hamels and (when healthy) Cliff Lee have continued to produce at top-of-the-rotation like rates. Jonathan Papelbon has turned things around following some early season struggles. Beyond that there hasn’t been much on the pitching front worth getting excited about either.
The Phillies have a big mountain to climb if they’re going to get back into the NL East race. It may be time to start disassembling that they have, with the focus of rebuilding for the future.