A round-up of reader observations and a few of my own.
Eye on the Wild Card: “Pitching and defense have been pretty damn solid this month and that is what wins you ball games in the end. Especially in the NL. Problem is that the Braves are first in runs this month and first in ERA. It’s going to be very difficult to catch them especially with a better pitching staff and rotation. Good news for the Phils is that there is still this thing called the WC and the teams the Phils are contending with (Cards, Giants, Rockies) all have their serious flaws too." - MG
Kendrick: “Is it too soon to start soliciting suggestions for a new fifth starter next season? I'd take a 48 year-old Moyer over Kendrick any day of the week, for one. At least he knows what the hell he's doing out there.” – RSB
Utley, Howard rushed back: “It is much too early to write off a team that is only a half game out of the wild card, but Utley and Howard needed to work off the rust for a bit longer in Lehigh Valley. They're not helping anyone by rushing back, benching the overperforming replacements and working off the rust at the expense of the team.” - Will Schweitzer
Beerleaguer: Utley hit the ball hard a couple of times yesterday, which suggests that he might be finding his timing. But I don’t buy the timing excuse for Howard. I just think he’s overanxious and swinging at slop. On Kendrick, I’d agree that he’s pitched glorified batting practice lately, and I’m just not confident that we can expect to see much improvement going forward. Unfortunately, he’s still the best option.
How terrible it’s been to watch Domonic Brown, who provided a boost of energy and youth just a few weeks ago, fall into this bench role where he’s in over his head. What good has it done? At this point, Manuel's probably reluctant to use him at all.
Luckily, the Rockies bailed out the Phillies by sweeping the Braves, but now the Rockies themselves are back in the mix for the Wild Card. The Phils aren’t at mission critical; much of the problem stems from their failures with RISP. Still, it’s time to pick it up, starting up top with Rollins (.702 OPS).