Quick quiz: What do Matt Stairs, Eric Bruntlett and John Mayberry have in common? Answer: They're each 1-for-July.
Final quickie before we shift gears toward tonight’s game and start of the seven-game road trip (just as the Phillies’ home record leveled off, should we expect their unreal road record to do the same?). I’m not one to archive articles, but for a time, I kept this piece by Jayson Stark handy. I believe it was from 2006, but it could have just as easily been from 2005 or even 2007. The premise with the wide gap between the Phillies’ best and worst players on the roster, and it was because of this, in the mind of one scout, that the Phils couldn’t get over the hump.
One of the reasons why the Phils went the distance last season was because they made great strides in closing said gap. For example, pitchers like Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey, roles filled in a previous lifetime by Brian Sanches and Rick White, packed a formidable middle-inning punch. In addition, the bench could be counted on to make consistent contact.
In other words, the reservists are getting a little thin. In fact, I can’t remember a Phillies’ team that relied on its starting nine so heavily. Now, that’s a real credit to the starting nine, which may be the best in baseball and deserve heaps of credit for the Phillies' 56-40 mark, but it also speaks volumes about their subs. The summary deck says everything you need to know about Stairs, Bruntlett and Mayberry lately. The bullpen, depleted by injury, now features Steve Register, Tyler Walker and Kyle Kendrick, who’s never been a reliever in his life.
These may be minor issues today, but they'll be magnified in October if the situation can't improve.