This is an important point of the season for the Phillies. Prior to the season, I didn’t think there was any chance they wouldn’t be making the postseason for a third straight year. Now, I can see how it may happen. Inconsistent play is one main reason and a problem spot that can hurt any team at any time snuck up to bite the Phillies—injuries.

The Phils DL list already looks like so: Placido Polanco, JA Happ, starting catcher Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin. But now the main injury concern is all-star Chase Utley, who requires surgery on his thumb, and will be out at least eight weeks. Besides an injury right before the playoffs, I think this is the worst time for news like that. The Phillies are in third place (yes, even behind the Mets) and four games back of the Braves in the NL East. They haven’t looked good in a while and losing a three-game series to the Reds earlier this weekend has everyone believing the Reds are legit.

I wrote in spring training that Cole Hamels was the key to the Phillies this year. Well, he’s been mediocre at best in the first half of the season. Everyone continues to wait to see Hamels put it all together and “re-breakout” again, but so far it’s the same “middle of the road” pitcher that we keep seeing. Roy Halladay has been a Godsend, but we already knew he would. But while Doc is being his usual dominant self, the rest of the rotation seems to have taken a step back. Joe Blanton is struggling, Kyle Kendrick struggles to keep his ERA under 5.00, Happ is on the DL after making just two starts this year. Maybe keeping Cliff Lee around for another year wouldn’t have been such a bad idea?

It will be interesting to see what Philadelphia does at the trade deadline especially with its depleted roster at the moment. Will they add an arm that they desperately need like Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt? Will they acquire infield help in the name of Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada or Jose Lopez? I think the starting pitching is more of a need because they need another dominant starter along with Halladay. But something has to be done quickly before this funk they are in ends up dropping them too far behind the Braves/Mets where a late-season comeback will be, well, late.

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