1. 54 games in 55 days
This stretch is going to really test the Phillies' depth - which they seem to be lacking. Their bench and bull pen will need to step up big time during this stretch to not allow them to fall further back in the NL East than they already are.
Fortunately, we are seeing some promise out of players we did not expect much from. Tony Gwynn is playing well both in the field and at the plate, and Mike Adams and Jake Diekman seem to be gaining confidence out of the bullpen. This stretch could be very important for this Phillies team heading into both the All Star Break and the trade deadline.
2. Cody Asche's Rebound week
Asche gained some confidence from a talk he had with Mike Schmidt, and I am sure that helped him shake off his errors and regain his composure both in the field and at the plate.
I enjoy watching Asche play, and hope he stays in this groove. Other reports have Asche moving to the OF in the future. If he can remain consistent with his bat, he'll be around for a while.
3. Starting Pitching Looking Good
- AJ Burnett (vs. LAA) - 5 IP, 3ER
- Kyle Kendrick (vs. CIN) - 7 IP, 3 ER
- Cole Hamels (vs. CIN) - 7 IP, 1 ER
- Cliff Lee (vs. CIN) - 6.2 IP, 2 ER
- AJ Burnett (at MIA) - 5 IP 3 ER
Coming into this season, most knew that the Phillies' strength would be their starting pitching. Early on, Hamels was out, and Lee was struggling a bit. In the past week plus, the starting pitching has come around, and really given this team a chance to win almost every game they play. The last 5 games, the starting pitching has gone 6+ innings per start with a 3.52 ERA.
With Cliff Lee on the 15 day DL, we will probably see Roberto Hernandez inserted back into the rotation. He has pitched fairly well earlier in the season, and the Phils will need him to give them some strong innings in this tough stretch.
If they can keep the runs given up to a minimum, they give their inconsistent offense and struggling bullpen better chances to win.