Phrom the Phillies’ Phan’s Perspective

Philadelphia Phillies baseball logo (old)The Mets and Phillies get together for four big games that may — or may not — have a significant impact on the rest of the season. On the surface, it would appear that the Mets are in the driver’s seat — if they split the series, then they actually come out ahead, because the magic number will go down by four. Even if the Mets lose three, the Phillies will still be four games of first. If the Phillies can sweep the Mets, however, they’ll be only two games out — and suddenly this is a high-pressure race.

From the Mets’ fans’ perspective, we can be very satisfied with a split. A Phillies fan, however, has a very different mindset in regard to this series. To get inside the head of a Philadelphia phan, we’ve called on David Cohen of The Good Phight.

(By the way, you should visit The Good Phight to read MY answers to David’s questions in regard to the series.)

1. I think you’ll agree this four-game series is HUGE. With only 33 games left to play, and the Phils six games back … well, do the math — the Phillies need to take at least three of these games if they want to make a move for first place. As a fan, are you still gunning for the NL East title, or watching the Wild Card run more intently?

On my good days, I’m still thinking NL East title. The Mets are flawed, and the Phillies bats are potent. On my bad days, I see no way to get to the post-season, even with a Wild Card, because of this team’s pitching problems.

2. Is Chase Utley playing in the series? How has he done in his rehab assignment? Do you expect him to give the team an emotional as well as offensive lift?

Barring any surprises, he’ll be back tonight. The team has been 14-12 without him, so his absence hasn’t been horrible for the team. Charlie Manuel seemingly does a great job getting his players through apparent setbacks, like injuries to star players. As for his impact upon his return, barring his secretly learning how to pitch while on rehab, his return will certainly help the offense, but that’s not the lift it needs.

3. Tadahito Iguchi has performed fairly well in Utley’s absence, batting .300. When Chase returns, does Charlie Manuel find a spot in the lineup for Iguchi? Third base perhaps?

I would love for Iguchi to try out third base. The tandem of Wegham Nubbselms (see this great piece from Christina Kahrl) would be much better being a full-time bench player(s).

4. J.D. Durbin: I see an ERA nearing six and an unsightly WHIP, yet a 5-3 record. Tell us something about him beyond his stat line, and what has made him a five-game winner.

Here’s all you need to know about Durbin’s five wins: 15-9-10-10-11. Those are the runs scored by the Phillies in each of his wins. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what’s going on here. (See also Adam Eaton‘s won-loss record.)

5. Cole Hamels is on the DL, but the most recent prognosis sounds good. Do the Phillies have a chance to make the postseason without him?

Sure. If their offense re-surfaces like yesterday, anything’s possible. But, I’m much happier with Cole returning . . . which should be very soon.

6. The last time we hooked up, I asked if Pat Burrell might be the target of an assassination attempt. Who has been wearing his uniform since the All-Star Break?

Pat Burrell. It’s regression to the mean. He’s on pace to do what he’s done before – another high OBP, 20 to 30 home run, roughly 90-100 RBI season. That’s par for the course for him.

7. Rumor has it that Adam Eaton will return from the DL to face the Mets this week. Is this a good thing for Philly?

Horrible. Eaton has been a disaster. The longer he stays on the DL, the better it is for the Phillies.

9. This late in the season, it’s difficult to make personnel changes. But, if you could improve one position or area of the team for the September stretch run, what would it be? (note: starting pitching and the bullpen count as different areas)

It’s a tough call between the bullpen and the starting pitching, but I go with starting pitching. The team needs quality innings, not just innings. The latter is what many of their starters have provided this year. The offense is good enough to overcome late inning pitching meltdowns, but when they get behind by a ton early on, no one can overcome that.

Thanks again to David for sharing his thoughts from a Philadelphia perspective. Check out The Good Phight for more great info on the Phillies.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.