Things have not gone in the Philadelphia Phillies' favor this season, to say the least. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both sat out the season until recently, and the team's ace of aces, Roy Halladay, has been on the DL for quite some time now with a lat strain.
Fortunately, barring any setbacks, Halladay will return next Tuesday to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. But like Howard and Utley, will his return have come too late?
In the cases of Utley and Howard, the heart of the Phillies' lineup, it was expected that the return of the team's two biggest impact hitters would bring some more offensive success and narrow the gap between them and the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
And as has been the case with most everything else this year, the opposite happened. While Utley and Howard's returns both started off with a bang—Utley homered in his first at-bat back, while Howard doubled on the second pitch thrown to him—both their success and the team's have diminished. Since Utley returned, the Phils have gone 1-10 leading up to the All-Star Break. At least Cliff Lee got his win.
So, with the All-Star festivities behind us, all that's left is one more day of waiting before baseball recommences tomorrow night. For the Phillies, that comes against the Colorado Rockies, who also dwell in the cellar of their division, the NL West.
But what's going to happen now that there's been some time to think, to recuperate after the team's devastating stretch since the return of their former All-Star second baseman and former MVP first baseman?
Through the rest of the season, here are 10 predictions for the Phils' offense now that Utley and Howard are here to stay—one for each member of the lineup, and a couple of overall offensive predictions at the end.