The Phillies still have the big three at the top of the rotation. Roy Halliday, despite a 10-7 record still strikes fear in the opposition. Cliff Lee has 14 no decisions and just 4 wins, put owns a 3.50 ERA. Cole Hamels has been the team's best starter, earning his contract extension with his 14 wins and is on pace for 200 strikeouts.
The key for the Phillies return to prominence is the fact that they are somewhat healthy. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have returned from injuries that cost them large chunks of the season. Halliday and Lee have both missed time with injuries, though Lee's was not very serious and did not cost him much time. They are dealing with some injuries though. Catcher Carlos Ruiz may not return this season and 3B Kevin Frandsen has a stress fracture in his tibula. Frandsen's replacement, the well compensated Placido Polanco, is out for the season.
Remember in 2006 when the Phillies traded OF Bobby Abreu and RHP Cory Lidle to the Yankees after they conceded the race. It resulted in a run that almost got them into the postseason as a Wild Card. This season, seemingly down the tubes, caused them to move outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. The results are remarkably similar, with the team taking off in September. I think its just a coincidence.
The Phillies have done their part over the better part of the past month. Is it too late? If it is, many will point to the larger part of the season where the Phillies underperformed. They are certainly at a point where they can be considered to be back in the playoff race. Especially with the two Wild Card spots to shoot for. Atlanta seems like they learned from the collapse of last September. St Louis, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles are still ahead of them in the standings. The Phillies have no margin for error, something that tends to hurt teams in their position. But, if the 2009 Rockies could do it, why can't the Phillies? It will certainly take that kind of run for them to make a postseason game, even with the extra team.