Can Phillies Contend With Doc Back?

Roy Halladay makes his (hopefully) triumphant return to the mound on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

The Phillies are hoping that Halladay, who's been out since May 28 with a strained lat muscle, can help them continue to semi-streak out of the All-Star Break.

See, before Halladay went down, the Phils were in decent-to-not-entirely-terrible shape, sitting at 26-24 and just four games out of first place in National League East.

Since Halladay went down? The Phillies have slid to 13 games back of the Nationals (and 10 games back of the Wild Card) by going 14-27.

And, that, of course, includes a modest three-game winning streak the Phillies have posted out of the All-Star Break -- after losing their first game against the Rockies, Philadelphia won the series with two-straight victories and then took a game from the Dodgers on Monday night.

Two more games in Los Angeles are followed by two series at home (three against the Giants and three against the Brewers) and then the Phils travel to Atlanta for three games and Washington for three games.

The first game of that Washington series is July 31, which just so happens to be the trade deadline.

Halladay's return on Tuesday -- and, of course, his performance -- could go a long way towards determining how the Phils proceed. If he can come out and look like his old, dominant self (even if it's just, as the Phils expect, through six innings), it's going to be tough for the Phillies to just start selling off pieces of the team before the trade deadline.

Cole Hamels is pitching for a contract, Cliff Lee is too good to keep losing, the offense might just maybe start to come around, and if Halladay can be the Doc of old, he might even manage to inspire the team into playing good baseball.

If that happens, it's hard to write off the Phillies entirely. Yes, it's always weird that such a slow game like baseball can change so quickly.

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