Phillies Down & Out

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It wasn't too long ago that things were going pretty well for the Philadelphia Phillies. They finished up the first half of the season with a 7-3 record in their final 10 games, a run that put them at the .500 mark during the All Star Break. In their first game to kick off the second half, the offense exploded for 13 runs off the New York Mets in what appeared to be a continuation of the success from only a few days earlier. And with the Washington Nationals struggling and the Atlanta Braves hurting, it seemed like the Phillies might be able to make a run.

Or not.

Since that victory on July 19 to put the Phillies one game over .500 (their high water mark for the season), they are 1-13, and have been swept three times. They've scored 2.3 runs per game in that span, have been shut out twice, and have been held to one run five times. At times, they've been unable to pitch, play defense, and do the little things that good teams do in order to get over the hump in those close games. In short, they've been absolutely dreadful.

Since July 20, when that streak began, they've gone from 6.5 games back of the division to 16.5 games. Of 30 MLB teams, they have the 22nd worst record, and have a legitimate shot at finishing dead last in the division. They are in a virtual tie with the New York Mets, and are 6.5 games ahead of the Miami Marlins. While it would admittedly take a lot for the Marlins to overtake the Phils, I wouldn't be surprised.

If their on-the-field performance wasn't bad enough, the Phillies have been receiving bad news from off-the-field, as well. Not only did Ruben Amaro fail to get any takers for his wares at the trade deadline, but news broke on Monday that relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo will be suspended 50 games following MLB's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Bastardo, one of the only worthwhile relievers on the team, will miss all but one of the 51 remaining games. Thankfully, the Phillies are so bad that they are not likely to miss his arm late in games.

The good news about this – and yes, there is a silver lining if you squint hard enough – is that the Phillies are on their way to having an absolutely dreadful record, which means they are going to be in a much better position in the off-season and during next year's draft. While there are no slam-dunk studs like Bryce Harper in next year's expected draft class, the Phillies have a decent good shot at having one of the top ten picks in 2014. Because of that, they will have their pick of the litter in this year's free agent class without having to worry about losing that first draft pick, thanks to the new rules that govern free agent compensation. It's quite literally the best thing the Phillies can hope for at this point.

I'm never one to root for the Phillies to lose, but they literally have nothing to play for this season. I'd like to see the individual players do well, especially those who might be traded, like Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon, but for the next two months, they are all but playing for 2014.

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