At this point, the Phillies are buyers and if the club has any hope of making a real second-half run, it's going to need a much more reliable bullpen.
From the seventh inning on, the team's ERA skyrockets to 4.24 (27th) with a 1.44 WHIP (29th) and .270 opponents' average (28th). And that's including Jonathan Papelbon's good numbers in the first half.
Here are a few guys the Phillies could add to help patch up their shaky middle relief:
Luke Gregerson, RHP, San Diego
The Padres' 29-year-old has been one of the most consistent middle relievers in baseball since 2009, and in the past three seasons he's never eclipsed a 3.00 ERA. His combined stats over that span: 167.1 IP, 142 Ks, 48 BB, 2.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 12 saves.
Left-handed batters can give him trouble (they're .273 against him), but righties have little chance. In his career vs. right-handed batting: .189/.241/.294, 4.20 K/BB. Gregerson would probably come at a hefty price considering his consistency, his reasonable salary ($3.2 in 2013), and the fact he's not free-agent eligible until 2015.
Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee
K-Rod is experiencing a comeback year since taking over the Brewers' closer role with a miniscule 1.19 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He's struck out 25 batters in 22.2 innings. At his $8 million salary this season, he's probably a guy the last-place Brewers will definitely move.
But as Corey Seidman pointed out on CSNPhilly.com, Rodriguez's 2013 sample size is small compared to his career-long problems with control — he's walked 4.0 men per nine innings since 2007. He could sure up the eighth inning, as he's done for Milwaukee in the past, but he's not a guy you'd call on in the middle of an inning with runners on.
John Axford, RHP, Milwaukee
He's another guy the Brewers will want to deal. He led the league in saves as a 28-year-old in 2011, but he owns a 4.33 ERA and 1.46 WHIP since. Discounting his first four appearances this season (3.1 IP, 9 ER, 9 H), he has a 1.78 ERA in 42 games but still has walked 15 batters in 35.1 innings while striking out 36.
He's making $5 million this year and isn't free-agent eligible until 2017.
Carlos Villanueva, RHP, Chicago Cubs
If Phillies made a move for centerfielder Nate Schierholtz, they'd have a chance to kill two birds with one stone if they acquired Villaneuva as well. The 29-year-old has a solid 3.06 ERA and 1.30 WHIP as a reliever this season (he's also started 10 games).
He's not the most spectacular middle relief option, but he is locked up through 2014 ($5 million per year) and would provide rotation depth as well.
Steve Cishek, RHP, Miami
The young closer has been nothing but consistent since surfacing in the majors in 2011. He owns a career 2.74 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and this season has thus far posted a career-best 3.15 K/BB ratio. He's saved 17 of 19 opportunities.
The Marlins don't necessarily have a need to move Cishek — he's inexpensive and under team control through 2017 — so it might take a significant package to bring him to the Phillies.
Jeremy Affeldt, LHP, San Francisco
Affeldt may cost more than the Phillies are willing to spend — he's due $18 million through 2015 — but he'd no doubt aid the back of the bullpen, where he's posted a 2.85 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 2.1 K/BB ratio since 2011.