Without Roy Halladay, the Philadelphia Phillies lack a competitive identity.
With their continuing struggles on offense, the Phillies can’t seem to find a prayer as their team slowly disintegrates from the inside out. While their lack of athletic prowess can be attributed, at least to some extent, to their inconsistent hitting (23rd in the majors in batting average), Halladay’s streaky if not utterly atrocious performances have contributed to this team being unexceptional.
In his last seven games, Halladay’s ERA has been less than stellar with an overall average of 8.91. By far his worst outing was in his last game against the Miami Marlins. In just 2.1 innings, Halladay gave up four hits and nine runs to a team that is the worst in the league in batting average (.225) and earned runs (99).
Now, on the 15 day disabled list due to a recent surgery to remove a bone spur, Halladay is officially out of commission leaving the Phillies with the difficult task of not only trying to survive without him but also in how they can play effectively without having a dominate pitching force.
Sure, Cliff Lee has proven to be a fairly reliable pitcher (3.26 ERA overall), but he alone can’t account for all of the woes the Phillies have been facing, especially against the teams which are proficient offensively.
In order to compete in the majors your team must not only have depth that can be relied upon, but it also must have a well-refined bullpen that can come out with a dignified tenacity to put games out reach for the opposing teams. As of now, the Phillies are deficient in both of these categories. The anomaly in this regard is Jonathan Papelbon who has been absolutely sensational in nearly every game he has been their reliever.
The only reason the Phillies are third in their division is because of their veteran infielders (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Chase Utley) that average a combined .270 batting average. The problem with this statistic however, is that it doesn’t fully take into account the discrepancies of the outfield that averages a mere .214 average in comparison.
While even this type of blemish is hard to forgive, if the Phillies had the type of lights out pitching which they are typically known for, then the atrocities of the outfield would be seemingly irrelevant. However, when your most highly touted pitcher has been playing uninspired baseball while being on the disabled list, it creates a sense of insurmountable adversity that is hard to mentally fathom.
Despite these troubling sentiments, the Phillies are far from being considered a condemned disappointment. Unless you’re the Chicago Cubs or the Houston Astros, you always have a punchers chance of at least making a splash at some point during the season. On top of that, the Phillies are fortunate enough to be playing in a division that is hindered by the Miami Marlins and the ever-inconsistent New York Mets. While the Braves have proven that they can be competitive in their own right, they are by no means a division juggernaut at this point in the season. Assuming Halladay can come back from surgery not only healthier but also even more adept at his craft than he was before, the Phillies have a chance to be a prominent force in the east.
If the Phillies can get off on the right foot and at least win their next few upcoming series’ against Arizona and Cleveland, they will gain both a huge morale boost along with the comforting knowledge that they can compete valiantly with other facets of their game. Therefore, when Halladay makes his inevitable return, the Phillies will be battle tested and more self-assured that they defeat teams that have sufficient offenses.
While there is plenty of baseball left to be played, the Phillies need to address all of their ailing issues lest they become lost in not only their own division but within the league as well. When Halladay comes back, the Phillies will either find themselves completely rejuvenated and ready to compete or in the same state they were last year: a complacent team without hope.