To make playoffs, Phillies would need to make history

To make playoffs, Phillies would need to make history

June 24, 2013, 1:15 pm
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The Phillies did something Sunday they’ve done far too often in 2013 -– they failed to score against a starting pitcher. It was the 13th time this season they’ve been held scoreless by an opposing SP, which already exceeds last year’s total of 12.

Sunday’s scoreless effort came against Matt Harvey, who is no slouch. But some of the other pitchers on the list are guys with career ERAs between 4.00 and 4.50. We’re talking Paul Maholm, Kevin Slowey, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon McCarthy, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake.

In 48 of the Phillies’ 76 games, they’ve been held to six hits or fewer by the opposing starting pitcher. The offense is brutally inconsistent, and when it’s not clicking it has been overwhelmingly bad. The Phillies have a .258 on-base percentage in their 40 losses. Obviously, all teams have poor numbers when they lose, but that OBP in losses ranks 27th in baseball, ahead of only the boom-bust Braves and the injury-plagued Yankees and Nationals.

It’s not hard to figure out why this team struggles so much. There are glaring flaws at nearly every position on the field.

Phillies rightfielders are hitting .219 with a .290 on-base percentage –- both worst in the NL. Only Miami’s catchers have a lower OBP. Only the Cubs and Nationals have a worse OPS from their second basemen. Only the Cardinals, Dodgers and Marlins have fewer homers from their third basemen. No NL team has a worse slugging percentage from centerfield.

The Phillies have been outscored by 58 runs this season. Only the Marlins and Astros -- who opened the season with a combined payroll of close to $100 million less than the Phils –- have worse run differentials.

Run differential tends to be a better indicator of a team’s talent than even its record. And over the last 108 seasons, only two teams that were outscored as badly as the Phillies to this point in the season won 83 or more games -- the 1996 Red Sox and 1988 Padres. Only seven in the history of baseball finished with a winning record. Not a single one made the playoffs.

As they embark on a 10-game road trip through San Diego, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, the Phils are 7½ games back in the NL East and 8½ behind the Pirates for the second wild-card. Five teams separate the Phillies from that second wild-card spot.

These next 10 games could determine Ruben Amaro Jr.’s path in July. If the Phils go something like 3-7 and emerge from the trip 39-47, they’d be in a nearly identical spot to where they were halfway through the 2012 season.

And we’re sure you remember how many pieces were sold off then.