Third Place? It’s Possible for the Phillies

Eickhoff is a reason to be hopeful for Phillies fans. Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.

Eickhoff is a reason to be hopeful for Phillies fans.
Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.

The Phillies have had a dreadful season. They were out of contention by May, and on pace for well over 100 losses by the All-Star break. They were trotting out old pitchers who weren’t very good, almost half of their 2008 line-up, and over the hill veterans all over the diamond. They were an old, bad baseball team. They didn’t hit well, they didn’t field well, and they didn’t pitch well, starting or relief. They stunk.

You know, they still aren’t that great. Find me a front-end starter in the bunch of starting pitchers, currently. Find me a hitter who will knock 30 homers out of the yard. Find me the hitter who will hit .325 and post a .400 OBP. Find me the .900 plus OPS guy. Find me anyone who does all of those. There is no Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, or Jimmy Rollins in their primes level player on this team right now. I’m not certain I can find you much of anyone in the current starting line-up who would have started on the 2008 team. I’d bet none.

And yet, this team has come from hopelessly being the worst in baseball to being 2.5 games out of third place with a month to go. This is not to say that the Phillies are a good team, but they have played hard in the second half and shown they want to be here. Miami and Atlanta have quietly become worse baseball teams than the Phillies at this stage in the season. The hungry young Phillies, a roster full of young guys trying to lock down jobs in the majors, have narrowed the gap to the point where they might just finish third place in the awful NL East- something that was unthinkable in early July.

The rotation has a bunch of guys now who made their MLB debuts after the start of June. The infield that took the field on Saturday night had only one player in his 30s, the outfield had none. Seven of the nine starters that night weren’t on the 2013 team. The closer is in his 20s, the starting pitchers are in their 20s, and the line-up is full of 20 somethings. In the course of about 12 months since Pat Gillick took over as team President, the roster has been totally turned over and made new again.

This team still could finish dead last. They have lots of young guys going into uncharted territory in September. They have a few very sub-par players still on the roster, and probably will have a few into next season even. Lots could still go wrong, but the very fact that they are in striking range of passing two teams in the division and moving up into third should give hope that next year’s version of the Phillies can be a much more competitive team.


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