The Philadelphia Phillies enter June with a record of 27-25. Though they are still in fifth place in the division, the Phillies are just three games out of first. As a Phillies fan, it is still stunning to see the five-time defending division champs residing at the bottom of the standings. However, it is a miracle that the Phillies are this good given everything that has happened. In fact, the team should feel really good about itself right now.
Here are some reasons why it is surprising that the Phillies are in this good of shape:
The Roy Halladay injury is fairly new, though it could have been the reason why he struggled throughout the month of May. That will no doubt impact the team during the next month or two, but for now it hasn't really been felt. Of course, plenty of other injuries have hit the team. The Phillies have yet to see their number three and number four hitters in action this season. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard might be getting older, but they are still vital contributors to the team. When you are missing two hitters from the heart of your lineup for this long, it isn't easy to win games. However, the Phillies are doing just that.
Cliff Lee has no wins
I'm willing to bet that no one thought that Cliff Lee would still be winless in June. As strong as he has been on the mound, Lee has been the unfortunate victim of his team coming up small for him. His numbers are impressive, but they haven't yielded him victories yet. However, the Phillies have managed to win games that he has started. Lee has only been involved in two decisions on the season.
Jimmy Rollins has been awful
Jimmy Rollins signed a three-year contract extension in the offseason. So far, that deal has looked like a bad decision. The shortstop has been terrible at the plate, hitting just .239 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. The Phillies let him bat third for the first month of the season, meaning they wasted that key spot in the order. The Phillies are winning despite getting nothing from their former MVP.
The Cole Hamels drama
Since the Phillies didn't re-sign Hamels during spring training, they welcomed an ongoing distraction regarding the ace's future. Though both Hamels and Ruben Amaro are constantly asked questions about the lack of a deal, the distraction hasn't hurt the team. Hamels is having a career year and is the early favorite to take home his first Cy Young Award. As the season goes on, the contract stuff could become more intense. But for now, Hamels has been the best player on the team.* - Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Phillies fan.