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Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Hobbled Phillies on another playoff run?

ESPN.com

Editor's note: Throughout August, ESPN.com will take a close look at various teams in the hunt for a playoff spot to assess whether they have what it takes to survive the dog days of August and remain in contention come October.

At the bottom of the page, each team will receive a dog bone rating based on our overall analysis: five bones = serious postseason contender; four bones = good contender; three bones = average contender; two bones = poor contender; one bone = no contender.

Raul Ibanez
Ibanez

Raul Ibanez

During the first half of the season, Ibanez hit for a .243 average and slugged under .400. Many Phillies fans were hoping the team would reduce his playing time or dump his contract on an unsuspecting suitor. Since the second half began, however, Ibanez fell back into the good graces of Phillies fans, hitting for a 1.064 OPS in his past 22 games. He is hitting just about everything thrown his way, regardless of whether a right-hander or left-hander is on the hill. A notoriously streaky hitter, Ibanez might be the guy the Phillies ride to another playoff berth.

-- Bill Baer, Phillies blogger (Crashburn Alley), SweetSpot Blog Network

Jimmy Rollins
Rollins

Jimmy Rollins

In February, Rollins said he would like to steal 50 bases, score 150 runs, hit .300 and make two or fewer fielding errors during the 2010 season. Due to two calf strains, Rollins has played in 52 of the team's 111 games. His current .712 OPS would also be the third-lowest of his career, thanks in part to a paltry .622 OPS in July. Furthermore, he's hit only one home run in his past 38 games. With a rash of injuries decimating the starting lineup, the Phillies desperately need Rollins to regain his offensive form.

-- Bill Baer, Phillies blogger (Crashburn Alley), SweetSpot Blog Network

The Phillies have been plagued by inconsistent play, due in large part to a rash of injuries. No team in baseball has put more players on the disabled list (16) than the Phillies have this season. It's been so tough that the eight hitters in their Opening Day lineup have played together only six times all season, and not at all since May 21. But that hasn't gotten them down as they have six walk-off wins, which is tied for eighth in all of baseball. And through Sunday, no team in the league has more wins in their last at-bat than the Phillies' 17.

The Phillies' starting rotation has been the team's strength after trading away Cliff Lee and trading for Roy Halladay in the offseason. Through Sunday, their starters have a 3.89 ERA, eighth-best in the major leagues. And manager Charlie Manuel has gotten the most out of them, as they lead the league in innings pitched.

On top of that, Halladay already has eight complete games, just one away from his career high and more than 27 of the other 29 teams.

This is necessitated by a subpar bullpen that's had trouble staying healthy. The Phillies are tied for fifth in the majors with 15 blown saves, but have the good fortune of being in the same division as two of the teams with more. Through Sunday, they were one of 13 teams this season with a bullpen ERA over four, and the Braves and Giants -- the teams they're chasing in the division and wild-card races -- are both in the top five.

Offensively, the addition of Placido Polanco has settled down the lineup. Through Sunday, the Phillies were 22nd in baseball in strikeouts with 731, which puts them on pace for their fewest strikeouts since 1997.

Philadelphia added Roy Oswalt to its rotation in July, but its biggest additions may be the return of All-Stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to the lineup in the next month.

-- John Fisher, ESPN Stats & Info blog

From Baseball Prospectus

On the morning of July 22, Baseball Prospectus' playoff odds for the Philadelphia Phillies hovered just above 10 percent; now, with mid-August approaching, the odds are a little over 46 percent.

The Phillies are 1½ games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and on the heels of the San Francisco Giants in the wild-card race.

The 2009 Phillies won Baseball Prospectus' Dick Martin Award for the healthiest team in baseball. The story of the 2010 edition has been the exact opposite: Philadelphia has lost stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino to injury.

With just over 50 games to play, the question remains: Can the Phillies get Roy Halladay to the postseason for the first time and make their run at the Big Red Machine in terms of three consecutive NL pennants?

For more of Baseball Prospectus' analysis, click here Insider .