Imagine what could have been had the Phils not had to use their bullpen this week. It would have likely looked a lot better than the 1-6 week that we witnessed. After a couple of extra inning losses in Boston, the teams came down to Philly for 2 more. Jeremy Hellickson coughed up game 3 of the series with another disastrous outing before Nick Pivetta came up and matched Cy Young candidate Chris Sale and shut the Sox down to allow the Phils to break their 8 game losing streak. Arizona came into town for 3 and left with 3 more wins than they came to town with. After 6 strong innings Aaron Nola coughed up game one in the 7th inning before the bullpen choked up leads in the last 2 games. All in all, the Phils have now lost 11 of 12.
The offense was not exactly ripping the cover off the ball but they had their moments and with a few exceptions, did enough to win most of the games this week. Tommy Joseph continues to hit. He has the longest current hitting streak in the majors at 14 games and has his average at .263. Maikel Franco has come to life as well. Franco had 9 hits in the Sox and D-back series, including 5 extra base hits. While his average is still only .223, that’s a 15 point jump from last week. If he can continue on this pace, it could help Joseph even more if he has some protection behind him. It was a slow week for the top of the order with the exception of Howie Kendrick who continues to hit. Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr both had difficult weeks which doesn’t help when the middle of the order is actually hitting. With no one on base, it doesn’t do much good. Ty Kelly came up with 2 big hits this week as well. That is your Ty Kelly update for the season.
With the exception of Hellickson and 1 bad inning from Nola, the rotation had a fairly solid week, highlighted by Pivetta’s battle that may not have gotten him a decision but dd break up the monotony of losing that Phils fans had become accustomed to. While I trashed the bullpen, I must be fair in pointing out that they were worked hard this week, as always and were fairly serviceable. When you see that they got saddled with 4 of the 6 losses this week, it makes it look worse though. They blew leads and couldn’t hold out in any of the 3 extra innings outings. Pete Mackanin continues to put Hector Neris out to close games and has yet to learn that he’s not the same Neris as last season. He has one consistent arm in the bullpen in Pat Neshek and for whatever reason, feels he needs to waste him early to hold the leads that Neris and Joaquin Benoit and Jeanmar Gomez will eventually blow an inning or two later. Things look like they are getting a little better in the rotation but it needs to continue while the bullpen just can’t be counted on.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– With 7 games against 2 of the teams “directly” behind them in the standings, the Nats failed to completely put them out of the rear view mirror. The Braves came into Washington and took 2 of 3 in a slug-fest of a series that saw 51 runs scored. The Nats took out their frustrations on the Mets by winning the first 3 of a 4 game set in New York before Jacob deGrom single-handedly took them out with his arm and his bat. When all was said and done, the Nats still have a 10.5 game lead over the Braves and Mets and don’t seem to have much to be concerned about. They will continue their road trip with 3 in Miami then head home for 3 with a struggling Cincinnati.
Mets– Things started fairly well for the Mets as they took 2 of 3 from the Cubs. However, when Washington came to town things went downhill. After losing 3 of 4, the Mets are tied with the Braves at 10.5 games back and will be doing a lot of chasing as we near the end of the first half of the season. The Mets will head out west for the week and will start with 4 games in L.A. against the Dodgers who are currently one of the hottest teams around, though still chasing the D-backs. They’ll get a possible break after that as they head into San Fran to face a team who are on the opposite end of the spectrum having lost 12 of 16 in June. To make any kind of run, they’ll need injuries to heal and a lot more performances like deGrom’s this weekend.
Braves– It was another good week for the Braves but it didn’t help. After taking 2 of 3 from the Nats, they went home and won 2 more over the weekend after losing the opener in a series with the Marlins. Like the Mets, the Braves are still 10.5 out and not gaining ground quickly enough. A 4 game set at home with the Giants might help that. Then the Brewers come to town. While they are leading the Central, they aren’t dominating by any stretch with just 2 more wins than the Braves currently have. This week will be an opportunity to potentially make up some ground if they take care of business and the Nats stumble.
Marlins– It was a short week for the Fish as they had just 5 games on the schedule. Things started well as they dominated a 2 game set with the A’s and shutout the Braves in the opener in Atlanta. They lost the next 2 to fall a half game back of the Mets and Braves. Washington will head into Miami for 3 and attempt to halt any forward moment the Marlins were gaining. The Cubs will head in for 4 after that. They may not be the same team that won the World Series last year but they are still formidable enough to knock the Fish backwards.
The Cardinals come into Citizens Bank Park for 3 games to start the week. Having lost 5 of 6, this series could go either way for both teams. Based on the last series these teams had, the Cards may just be licking their lips though. After the Cards leave town, the Phils will head to Arizona for a 4 game set with the team that just swept them over the weekend. Redemption?? We can only hope. With 3 weeks until the All Star break, the Phils will try to head in on a positive note. They are going to need some help from all 3 phases as well as the manager if they have any hopes of that happening.