Philadelphia Phillies: No Pain, No Gain

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Philadelphia Phillies:  No Pain, No Gain
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Wednesday was the kind of Phillies game I like.  High scoring, low stress.  

Pretty much right from the start you knew that this one would go in the win column for the fightin' Phils.

In fact, the Phillies have continued their streak of winning series since their return from the All-Star break.  They won two of three from the Mets and two of three from the Cubs.  

Who won those four games?  Vance Worley won two, Kyle Kendrick and Michael Stutes each won one. Worley, Kendrick, Stutes—just who we thought would be winning games for the Phillies, right?

And what about offensively?  The leader in RBI since the All-Star break has eight. It's not Ryan Howard or Chase Utley, not Shane Victorino or Raul Ibanez, either.

The Phillies RBI leader since the break is Michael Martinez.  Now, Jimmy Rollins is second with six (Did you see him hit home runs from both sides of the plate yesterday??), but third is John Mayberry with five.

And while Rollins leads in runs scored with eight, tied for second? Domonic Brown and Michael Martinez.

So let's review, the Phils are 4-2 since their return from the All-Star break, and the major contributors to this early second half success are Vance Worley, Michael Stutes, Michael Martinez, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry.  

Oh yeah, there have been two saves as well, recorded by—you guessed it—Antonio Bastardo.  

None of these players, except maybe Brown, would even be in the lineup if it were nor for injuries (that's the no pain, part.)

In fact, the Phillies have been decimated by injuries so far.  Half of their starting lineup has missed significant time, and they lost their No. 3 and 4 starters and their top three bullpen closers.  

Yet, they sit atop the NL East at 61-36.  That's 25 games over .500.  Twenty-five games!  And they lead the second place Braves by 4.5 games.  

Yes, we expected this team to be good, but if someone had said they would have all of the injuries mentioned above, I don't think anyone thought they'd be this good. 

No, no one wants injuries, but the silver lining to losing your starters is learning something about your backups you might never have known.

In the case of the 2011 Phillies, we learned that there are some young pitchers and position players that could be a big part of this team's future.

And not only the future, they might play significant roles this year as well.  Thanks to the unexpected playing time they are getting now, these young players will be battle tested for the stretch run and the playoffs should the Phillies get there.

In a long baseball season, every team needs to expect the unexpected. Almost every winning team can point to players not in the Opening Day lineup who still played big roles in their success often because of injury, and the deeper your roster, the better your chances.  

So let's hear it for the boys, and I mean boys.  

Worley is 23, Brown and Stutes are 24. And Martinez, Mayberry and Bastardo are all under 30, all younger than the average age of this veterans Phillies lineup.

Thanks to bad backs and sprained thumbs, numb fingers and tired knees, the Phillies are actually a better team than they were when they started this 2011 season.  

And let's not forget, they were pretty darn good to start with.

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