From the first pitch on Opening Day to this point in the season, the Philadelphia Phillies have realistically had one mind-set about their approach: survive.
What are they surviving, you ask? Well, that's a simple answer. Injuries.
The Phillies are missing big parts of their roster, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Vance Worley and others, and the mind-set has always been that it's going to get better. There's a light at the end of the tunnel.
But as the injuries continue to pile up, the mind-set may have to change. Roy Halladay's status moving forward is uncertain. Jimmy Rollins is struggling to get things going at the plate.
With most of their injured players still quite some time away, the Phillies may have to convince themselves to survive another month.
That's what they've been doing throughout the month of May, and it hasn't been a terrible approach. The Phillies have had some success this month thanks to a handful of players, and it is time once again to hand out those monthly grades.
Which players need to stay the course, and which players need to turn things around if this team wants to survive the month of June?
Whatever was bothering Antonio Bastardo early in the season seems to be a thing of the past now, as the lefty has quietly dominated the competition en route to a very strong month of May.
Bastardo is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings and has posted a WHIP of less than one. The opposition is batting less than .100 against him.
Not bad for a set-up man.
The month of May hasn't been very kind to Phillies' starter Joe Blanton, who cooled off dramatically this month after a hot start in April.
This biggest difference has been the increase in home runs. Blanton has allowed nine bombs in the month of May compared to just one in the month of April.
If he can cut back on his fly balls—many of which tend to leave the ball park—Blanton can turn things around in the month of June.
Jose Contreras is slowly starting to look like the dominant reliever that was once awarded the closer's role early last season.
Phillies' pitching coach Rich Dubee suggested that Contreras was still shaking some rust off in the month of April and heading into May, and that was obvious.
With more work, Contreras is getting back on track. He struck out nine hitters this month and walked just one.
Even so, he has faced just 38 batters this month and allowed seven to score, five of which were earned. With Chad Qualls' nosedive, the Phillies really need a guy like Contreras to step up.
With injuries piling up in the Phillies' bullpen, the club called up powerhouse lefty Jake Diekman a couple of weeks ago, and he has certainly been impressive since.
I'm willing to overlook one rough outing against the Chicago Cubs and give Diekman an A because he's been that impressive.
In just 6.1 innings, he has struck out 12 batters and limited the opposition to a .143 batting average. He's striking out nearly half of all batters he faces and has posted a WHIP of 0.79.
Diekman's only goal should have been to impress people at the MLB level. He's certainly doing that.
It seems like for most of the season one of the Phillies' biggest questions has been: What is wrong with Roy Halladay?
Fans and pundits alike have attempted to decipher the meaning behind a slight dip in his velocity and strange pitch selection, and now, we have an answer—he's dealing with a sore shoulder, which could be a huge issue for a pitcher.
In terms of Halladay's future outlook, we won't know that for a while, but we do have his May results, and they weren't good.
While posting his normally strong strikeout-to-walk ratio, one of the most notable differences in Halladay's game was watching the opponent square the ball up against him. They hit .303 against "Doc" in the month of May, including six home runs and seven doubles, helping to lead to 24 earned runs.
Those are strange numbers for Halladay, and if he is forced to miss a significant amount of time, the Phillies are in trouble.
Looking at the names in their pitching rotation, it's almost strange to say that Cole Hamels has been the Phillies' best starter this year, but in a lot of ways, he has been.
Hamels continued his torrid pace to the season in the month of May, striking out 42 batters and allowing just 11 earned runs. The opposition hit just .205 against him, and he posted a very strong WHIP of 1.00.
With his victory against the New York Mets last Monday, Hamels became the first pitcher in the MLB to reach eight wins this season.
Kyle Kendrick did throw his first complete game shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals during the month of May, but I wouldn't get too excited just yet.
While Kendrick had a strong month, there are signs of regression as well.
The opposition hit just .250 against the right-handed pitcher this month, but part of that could be contributed to a bit of bad luck, as he also posted a BABip of .264.
Kendrick struck out 14 batters but also walked six and surrendered three home runs.
Having made some noticeable adjustments in his last start, it wouldn't be surprising to see Kendrick continue to pitch better in June, but if Roy Halladay or Vance Worley were to miss an extended period of time, I don't think that Kendrick is the answer.
It baffled my mind that Cliff Lee could put up some of the numbers that he did in the month of May and not get a single win, but then again, this should be a prime example of why wins are an arbitrary statistic in the first place.
After coming off of the disabled list, Lee picked right up where he left off. In 34 innings pitched, Lee punched out 36 batters and walked just eight.
Though he would surrender 11 earned runs and four home runs, Lee also posted a WHIP of 1.17.
Get this man some run support!
Jonathan Papelbon just keeps on trucking.
The Phillies brought their new closer aboard to convert saves, and he's doing so in style. Though the New York Mets touched him up with a three-run home run early in the month, that would prove to be the right-handed reliever's only blemish.
Papelbon struck out 14 batters in just over 10 innings of work and limited the opposition to a .205 batting average. He posted a 0.87 WHIP and continued to be perfect in the closer's role, converting each of his save opportunities into saves.
Chad Qualls, on the other hand, has been incredibly bad during the month of May.
In the mind of Phillies fans, he's gone from Antonio Bastardo-level "saved the bullpen" praise to Danys Baez-level "when are we cutting him" dislike.
Opponents are teeing off on Qualls, hitting .345 against him in the month of May. He's surrendered four home runs and four doubles. That's eight extra base hits in a single month off of a guy once dubbed this club's set-up man.
Qualls has posted a WHIP of more than two this month and a K/BB rate of 1.60.
Also, he's been getting shelled. Opponents have posted an OPS of 1.131 against him.
Joe Savery is another guy getting shelled this month, albeit in a much smaller sample size.
The lefty has pitched 7.1 innings this month and posted an ERA of more than seven. Savery has surrendered five earned runs (including a home run) and walked two batters, compared to just five strikeouts.
Opponents are seeing the ball well against Savery, who has been tagged with a .345 opponents' batting average for the month of May, helping his WHIP climb to 1.64.
With that being said, I'm willing to give Savery the benefit of the doubt. The Phillies' bullpen has been stretched incredibly thin, and he's had to face far more right-handed hitters than he should. His numbers against lefties aren't much better, but they're better nonetheless.
Raul Valdes has been very good for the Phillies during the month of May.
Called up in the face of yet another slew of bullpen injuries and inconsistency at the front end, Valdes grabbed his opportunity by the horns and has been pitching extremely well.
Since joining the Phillies from Triple-A, he has pitched eight innings. He's allowed six hits while walking one and striking out 10, surrendering his first three earned runs of the season, including a solo home run, to the New York Mets.
The Phillies couldn't have asked for much more out of Valdes, who has been just as tough against right handed-hitters (.133 BAA) as he has against lefties (.100 BAA.)
Carlos Ruiz has been the Phillies' MVP this season and there really isn't much competition, outside of maybe Cole Hamels. The funny thing is, as good as he was during the month of April, he got even better during the month of May.
Ruiz has held a batting average of better than .400 for a good portion of the month and an OPS well above 1.000. Another five home runs this month pushed him above his total for the entire 2011 season, and he added 21 RBI to his season total, placing him right near the top of the Phillies' offense.
Brian Schneider was surprisingly good for the Phillies this month on both sides of the ball.
He's appeared in 12 games and has collected 11 hits for the Phillies, including two doubles and a home run. Schneider has collected four RBI and struck out just six times.
Schneider is never going to hit a ton, but it is nice to see him contributing, especially now that Carlos Ruiz has been dealing with a sore hamstring.
It's a small sample size, but Mike Fontenot has been an excellent bench player for the Phillies since being called up from Triple-A.
The lefty has appeared in 11 games this season, spending some time at both second and third base in the field.
In 24 plate appearances, Fontenot has collected nine hits, including a double, and has driven in two runs while scoring three more.
He's swinging the bat well right now and gives the Phillies a left-handed option off of the bench with Jim Thome and Laynce Nix on the shelf.
Freddy Galvis has been painful to watch at the plate at times during this season, but you can definitely see his swing and approach making improvements with more experience at the big league level.
Galvis improved at the plate during the month of May, and while he isn't tearing the cover off of the ball by any means, compared to some of the other players on this roster, he certainly hasn't hurt the Phillies either.
The biggest jump for Galvis this month has been in the power department. He launched a pair of home runs and collected nine doubles, helping him to drive in 18 runs.
There is definitely still plenty of room for improvement for Galvis, but he's been a pleasant surprise in a lot of ways, especially when you look at the bigger picture.
With the offense scuffling early during the month of May, the Phillies decided to shake up their bench and bullpen a bit, sending a couple of guys to the disabled list and a couple back to Triple-A. One guy who benefited from the mini-shake-up was Hector Luna, who would make his Phillies debut.
Like Mike Fontenot, Luna has done just about as well as he could in the role the Phillies have given him, providing the club with a spot starter and a right-handed bat off of the bench with some power.
In 21 plate appearances, he's collected seven hits, including a big grand slam against the Chicago Cubs that gave him four of his six RBI.
He's not playing a huge role right now, but he may be putting some of those other right-handed bench bats on notice.
Pete Orr is another guy making the most of a limited opportunity as of late.
Given bench players like Orr, Mike Fontenot, and Hector Luna, it's all about coming through in the clutch. You're not going to get many chances or at-bats, so when you do, you need to come through.
Though he's done it quietly, that's something he's been able to do.
In 22 plate appearances, Orr has collected six hits and drawn a walk, striking out seven times. He's collected a pair of doubles, scored a pair of runs and collected a single RBI.
Given that both he and Fontenot are playing well, it will be interesting to see which of the two survive when injured players begin to return to the club.
Placido Polanco has been pretty solid for the Phillies during the month of May.
The third baseman has made 103 plate appearances, collecting 29 hits. Polanco has walked twice and struck out eight times. He's also doubled six times, slugged a home run and scored 12 runs in the month of May.
They're not the type of numbers you expect to see out of your third baseman, but it is unreasonable to ask for much more out of Polanco, who has continued to play a stellar third base.
Jimmy Rollins has been pretty bad during the month of May, and I don't think I'm alone in being surprised that he is still penciled in at the top of the Phillies' order.
To put it bluntly, giving one of the worst hitters in your lineup the most at-bats is not productive, and right now, Rollins is swinging the bat like one of the worst hitters the Phillies have to offer.
In 127 May plate appearances, Rollins has collected just 28 hits, including just five doubles, zero triples and two home runs.
These Phillies are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Personally, I think it's time to let the "spark plug" Rollins of the past go and come to the realization that this Rollins is a shell of his former self, at least offensively speaking.
Ty Wigginton isn't playing the same role the Phillies thought he'd be when they acquired him over the offseason, and they've asked him to play a lot more than anyone expected. All in all, Wigginton has done a solid job holding down the fort.
He's played both first and third base and hasn't killed the club at the plate, though his month of May was nearly as good as the first month of the season.
Wigginton has collected 93 plate appearances this month but just 17 hits, 13 of which were singles. The remaining hits are three home runs and a pair double. He's also drawn 12 walks.
With that being said, he has been a run producer for the Phillies this month, driving in 16 runs and scoring 15 of his own.
It was an average month for Wigginton, who has been forced into more of a semi-regular role.
There's no doubt that John Mayberry Jr. has been a disappointment this season, but the Phillies hope that his May numbers are a sign that he is improving at the plate.
Mayberry has played stellar defense this season, but the one tool that got him into games last season—his bat—hasn't shown up in 2012.
May was certainly an improvement for Mayberry, who managed to push his OPS over .700 for the month.
Mayberry has made 82 plate appearances and collected 20 hits, including two home runs and five doubles. He's scored 12 runs and driven in nine.
If he wants to remain in the lineup, he'll need to improve his discipline and approach at the plate, namely, cutting back on his strikeouts.
The month of May was a big improvement for Hunter Pence. The Phillies needed him to show that he can carry the offense without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the lineup, and he is finally showing glimpses of his ability to do so.
For the month of May, Pence improved his slash line across the board this month, posting a better batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage than the month of April.
Charlie Manuel recently moved Pence back into the three-hole in the lineup and he has looked much more comfortable. He's drawn more than four times as many walks in the month of May (17) as he did during the month of April. He has also cut back on his strikeouts and is making better contact.
Pence's power improved drastically this month. He hit eight home runs and six doubles during the month of May, good for 14 extra base hits. He's driven in 18 runs and scored 24 of his own.
Not a bad month for Pence by any means.
Getting Juan Pierre on a minor league deal over the off-season was a bargain for the Phillies, and after fighting to make the club this spring, all he's done is hit.
For the month of May, Pierre continued his assault of right-handed pitching, seeing little time against lefties.
He's played adequate defense in left field for the Phillies this season and has surprised a lot of people at the plate. In 88 plate appearances this month, he has collected 26 hits, including four doubles, and walked five times. He's struck out just nine times.
If there was any grievance with his results for the month of May, it'd be the fact that he has scored just 10 runs.
Coming into the season, I expected Shane Victorino to have one of the best seasons of his career, and I don't think I was alone. That hasn't happened yet, but the month of May was certainly a step in the right direction.
In 133 plate appearances, Victorino collected 31 hits, including nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 14 walks, while striking out just 13 times.
With Jimmy Rollins continuing to struggle at the plate, it may be time to see what Victorino and Juan Pierre can do at the top of the order with Rollins in the bottom half.