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It’s a tough season to be a Phillies fan.  You can make a case that Ryan Howard deserves to win the National League MVP again.  You can argue that Jimmy Rollins is a better player than Jose Reyes.  You can even say that Chase Utley is hands down the best second baseman in the League, maybe in all of baseball, but you can’t argue with the standings.

Once again the Phillies find themselves looking up at the New York Mets and wondering just where it went wrong.  Just last week the Phillies shrunk the Mets’ lead from six games to four by sweeping the New Yorkers and it seemed as if the Phillies were poised to make a serious push.  Up next on the Phillies’ agenda were the sub .500 Marlins while the Mets would face off against a tough Atlanta team which had beaten the New Yorkers every series this season.

A weekend later, the Phillies managed to drop 2 of three while the Mets went on to sweep the Braves.   It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what's wrong with these Phillies and it’s not the hitting.  The Phillies lead the NL in runs scored by a solid sixty runs and are third overall in the Majors (after the Yankees and Tigers), but their pitching falls well into the opposite spectrum.

In fact the Phillies’ staff with its 5.85 ERA ranks 27th overall, ahead of just Tampa, Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox.  And that’s why the Phillies find themselves four games back in the East and 3 games back in the Wild Card race.   With approximately 25 games left in the season, pitching help isn’t coming from outside and reports suggest that the Phillies’ best pitcher, Cole Hamels, won’t be back until the middle of the month - maybe even after a crucial series against the Mets the 14th-16th.

That’s not a reason to give up though; the Phillies do have a mostly favorable schedule the rest of the way - six games against the Nationals, six against the Braves, four against the Rockies and three each against St. Louis and the Mets.  While all of those teams except the Nationals are playing above .500 it’s an easier schedule than that of most of their opponents in the Wild Card chase.

Still the Phillies would rather win the East than rely on the Wild Card, though catching the Mets requires that the Phillies manage to find their A-Game and get to rotations which are far superior to their own, while the Mets stumble. 

If they can’t do either then Phillies fans will have to take solace in the fact that Ryan Howard is an MVP candidate, Chase Utley is the best second baseman in the Majors and that Jimmy Rollins may arguably be a better player than Jose Reyes.