In the baseball season, it's not about how you start, but how you finish. And for the Philadelphia Phillies, this will be very important, as top-level performance in the second half will be required if the team hopes to complete the improbable task of earning a playoff spot.
In order to do this, the Phillies will rely on their veteran stars to provide the experience and leadership needed by a team in a playoff stretch run. Of course, they will also hope that certain players will get hot at just the right time.
Entering the All-Star break, there were a handful of players who were doing just that and heating up at the perfect time. However, there were also guys who had been cooling off.
The Phillies will need all of their players to perform at top level and to keep their momentum. They will need their hot guys to stay hot in the summer months and the cold guys to heat up quickly.
Until the second half begins though, here are four of the team's hottest players and four of the coldest players entering the grind of the second half.
April: 90 AB, 9 R, 18 H, 4 RBI, 14 SO, 5 SB, .200/.234/.222
May: 77 AB, 8 R, 24 H, 3 2B, 1 RBI, 9 SO, 5 SB, .312/.361/.351
June: 99 AB, 15 R, 35 H, 4 2B, 6 RBI, 10 SO, 10 SB, .354/.390/.414
July: 49 AB, 5 R, 19 H, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 3 SO, 2 SB, .388/.388/.469
Ben Revere would have topped this list as the hottest Phillie entering the break if not for the devastating injury he suffered during the Phillies' final pre-All-Star series against the Chicago White Sox.
Revere had been heating up at just the right time, too. And as you can see from the stats, he had been getting better with each month. July and August could have been huge breakout months for Revere.
As such, he will spend some time on the DL, but when Revere is healthy enough to come back his continued offensive success could be vital to any chance this team might have at a spot in the postseason.
April: 4.78 ERA, 1-3 (6 GS), 37.2 IP, 33 H, 20 ER, 5 HR, 17 BB, 34 SO, .234 AVG
May: 4.95 ERA, 0-6 (6 GS), 36.1 IP, 41 H, 20 ER, 5 HR, 8 BB, 32 SO, .283 AVG
June: 3.94 ERA, 1-2 (5 GS), 32 IP, 31 H, 14 ER, 3 HR, 8 BB, 33 SO, .256 AVG
July: 1.57 ERA, 2-0 (3 GS), 23 IP, 19 H, 4 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 19 SO, .229 AVG
After months of unexpected struggles, Cole Hamels finally found success in July, rising to the team's best pitcher in that calendar month.
Hamels began to put up the numbers that were expected of him all season long, and if not for a blown save by Jonathan Papelbon he would be 3-0 in July. His stats, shown above, are indicative that Hamels is on the upswing.
And for the Phillies, Hamels finally finding his groove really couldn't be coming at a better time. If the Phillies hope to contend for a playoff spot, they are going to need the old Hamels back. He isn't there yet, but he is heating up and there is no reason to suspect that he will cool down anytime soon.
April: 2.00 ERA, 4/4 SV, 9 GP, 9 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, .161 AVG
May: 0.77 ERA, 7/7 SV, 11 GP, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO, .175 AVG
June: 3.60 ERA, 2-0, 4/8 SV, 10 GP, 10 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 3 HR, 2 BB, 10 SO, .250 AVG
July: 3.38 ERA, 5/6 SV, 8 GP, 8 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, .241 AVG
For the longest time, Jonathan Papelbon was the only relief pitcher in the entire Phillies' bullpen who was actually pulling his weight and finding any level of success. He opened the season with 11 saves in 11 opportunities, holding opponents below a .200 average in the process.
While no one expected Papelbon to remain perfect, it was surprising when he blew a string of saves in June. And since his first blown save of the season, Papelbon has converted just 9-in-14 opportunities.
Papelbon's struggles have not been good, but luckily for him and the Phillies they have not been detrimental. That can be seen by his two June wins, as the team was able to bail him out. Going forward though, the Phillies need Papelbon to pitch better, as he is their most reliable bullpen arm.
April: 91 AB, 11 R, 31 H, 4 XBH, 6 RBI, 11 BB, 17 SO, .341/.412/.418
May: 87 AB, 8 R, 15 H, 7 XBH, 5 RBI, 13 BB, 13 SO, .172/.280/.287
June: 108 AB, 14 R, 36 H, 11 XBH, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 15 SO, .333/.339/.500
July: 47 AB, 2 R, 14 H, 5 XBH, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO, .298/.346/.447
Michael Young started the season scorching hot before cooling down considerably and then getting hot again. His best month of the season was in April, but Young has continued to have a hot bat, especially recently.
Young, who is one of the Phillies' best offensive performers overall, has had a vital role in this team's run-scoring abilities. His average is in the top three on the team, and he is once again driving the ball really well.
It is unknown if Young will still be around when the calendar turns to August, but if he is there is no doubt the Phillies will continue to need his hot bat and clutch hitting.
April: 2.41 ERA, 2-1 (5 GS, 1 CG), 33.2 IP, 29 H, 9 ER, 3 HR, 8 BB, 24 SO, .230 AVG
May: 4.03 ERA, 3-2 (6 GS), 38 IP, 39 H, 17 ER, 4 HR, 13 BB, 21 SO, .264 AVG
June: 4.17 ERA, 2-2 (6 GS, 1 CG), 41 IP, 43 H, 19 ER, 3 HR, 6 BB, 25 SO, .264 AVG
July: 4.50 ERA, 1-1 (2 GS), 12 IP, 16 H, 6 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 SO, .320 AVG
In April, Kyle Kendrick was the Phillies' best pitcher by far. He threw more than 30 innings, allowed just 29 hits and kept opponents' batting average to .230. He was looking really good and it seemed the Phillies had made the right decision to re-sign him and keep him in the starting rotation.
But Kendrick began to slip in May and has been on a downward spiral since.
He struggled mightily in June, giving up 19 earned runs in just 41 innings. His ability to pitch effectively with his fastball and to induce double plays suffered. So far in July, unfortunately, it has been more of the same.
April: 21 AB, 4 R, 6 H, 2 2B, 4 RBI, .286/.348/.381
May: 21 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .190/.393/.524
June: 44 AB, 7 R, 14 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .318/.388/.432
July: 15 AB, 1 R, 6 H, 1 2B, 4 RBI, .400/.444/.467
As a pinch hitter mainly, Kevin Frandsen does not get a lot of at-bats. But when he does, especially lately, the utility infielder certainly makes the most of them.
Frandsen has helped the Phillies walk off a few times this season and always seems to be the one to come up with the clutch base hit right when it is needed. So far in July, he has continued his strong start and already has six hits in 15 at-bats.
Going forward, the Phillies will need Frandsen to continue to perform well at the plate, because it is always good to have at least one guy you trust to come off the bench when the game is on the line. Right now, Frandsen is that guy.
April: 86 AB, 8 R, 20 H, 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 9 BB, 17 SO, .233/.309/.372
May: 109 AB, 17 R, 33 H, 4 2B, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 0 BB, 21 SO, 3 SB, .303/.303/.688
June: 108 AB, 18 R, 30 H, 6 2B, 6 HR, 21 RBI, 12 BB, 25 SO, 5 SB, .278/.347/.537
July: 52 AB, 6 R, 14 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 9 SO, .269/.316/.481
Last Seven Days: 25 AB, 0 R, 4 H, 2 2B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, .160/.222/.240
Domonic Brown is having an incredible, breakout season. No one was better in the National League in May as Brown won back-to-back Player of the Week honors and the Player of the Month award. For his great numbers, Brown also got voted in via the player's ballot to his first-ever All-Star Game.
While Brown is still playing well for the Phillies, he has cooled off considerably, perhaps as expected. After bashing 12 home runs in May, Brown his just six in the same number of at-bats. And so far in July, in 52 at-bats, Brown only has two home runs.
He is still on pace to hit more doubles this month than any other and to knock in more or at least as many RBI as well. But what is concerning is that over his last 25 at-bats, a seven-day span, Brown has scored zero runs and is hitting just .160.
With Ryan Howard on the DL, the Phillies absolutely need Brown to find that hot bat again. They need him to take Howard's place as the premier power hitter on this team, and right now he isn't there yet.
April: 0.96 ERA, 1-0 (10 GP), 9.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 7 SO, .133 AVG
May: 3.12 ERA, 1-1 (0-2 SV, 12 GP), 8.2 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 8 BB, 11 SO, .303 AVG
June: 4.66, 0-1 (1-2 SV, 12 GP), 9.2 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO, .325 AVG
July: 1.35 ERA, 1-0 (1-1 SV, 7 GP), 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO, .136 AVG
Antonio Bastardo has been up and down this season, but lately he has been pitching as one of the best in a very weak bullpen.
Bastardo's recent success comes as a great sign for the Phillies. After all, with Mike Adams also on the DL, having a reliable guy in Bastardo to pitch the eighth or to spot close for Papelbon in the ninth is definitely a luxury.
The best teams in the NL East have great bullpens. As long as Bastardo can keep up his success from July, the Phillies will at least have one decent arm who they can rely on and ride the distance for the rest of the season.
April: 3.03 ERA, 2-1 (5 GS), 35.2 IP, 32 H, 12 ER, 3 HR, 5 BB, 30 SO, .234 AVG
May: 1.80 ERA, 4-1 (6 GS, 1 CG), 45 IP, 33 H, 9 ER, 2 HR, 8 BB, 33 SO, .208 AVG
June: 3.02 ERA, 3-0 (6 GS), 44.2 IP, 35 H, 15 ER, 3 HR, 8 BB, 52 SO, .213 AVG
July: 5.40 ERA, 1-1 (2 GS), 13.1 IP, 17 H, 8 ER, 5 HR, 10 SO, .309 AVG
Over the past few years, Cliff Lee has been one of the streakiest pitchers in baseball. In fact, it has been, in the recent past, very normal for the Phillies' lefty ace to have a bad month followed by a great one. So far, 2013 has been a similar story.
Lee's best month came in May, as he allowed just nine earned runs and held opponents to a batting average of .208. He followed that up with a decent June, but so far in two July starts, Lee looks to once again be struggling.
Luckily for Lee, who most recently gave up a run in the 2013 All-Star Game, the break could be a good thing. He will have the chance to come out fresh and well-rested.
And for the Phillies, their only chance at contending for a playoff spot is if Lee can return to the ace form that he had earlier this season and that he has been known for throughout his career.