A few of the beat writer types got together for dinner last night, and one topic of conversation centered around the Phillies prospects for the rest of the month. We all seemed to agree that the World will have a pretty good idea of what type of summer it is going to be by the end of June.
Over the next three games, the Phils have a chance to put the rest of the NL East at least seven games behind it in the standings. But with series against St. Louis, Boston, Los Anaheim, and Oakland on the horizon, it could easily hit a skid. One thing they haven't done this season is endure an extended losing streak. If they can avoid that against the type of competition they have up ahead, I think they could spend the rest of the summer padding their division lead. But if they end up sinking back to the pack - particularly if they slip up here in Florida - they might never reach a point that the 1993 team did (those Phils were 25 games over .500 at this point of the season).
Speaking of 1993 (again)
Today, Sam Donnellon chimes in with his thoughts on the current run this Phillies team is on. But he makes it clear that this team is completely different from the one that went to the World Series 15 years ago.
One notable difference: fewer mullets.
Paul Hagen has a nice piece on Chase Utley's place in the spotlight.
For my off day story, I took a look at Ryan Madson. For most of the season, he seems to have been the low man on the totem pole out of the bullpen, regulated to a glorified mop up man. He's still been recovering his confidence from that shoulder strain that sidelined him for two months last season. But the Phillies used him in a pivotal situation on Saturday night against the Braves, a good sign for a bullpen that has already far exceeded expectations.
A rejuvenated Madson would give the Phillies one more weapon out of the bullpen while also taking heat off of Chad Durbin, who has been Charlie Manuel's choice middle reliever thus far. Durbin has pitched well, but Madson brings a different skill set to the table. He's a little more powerful, a little better against lefties. If you want to give the ball to a guy and ask him to pitch two scoreless innings for you, Durbin is the guy. But in certain situations - like, say, two on, one out and a lefty at the plate - Madson could be the better option.