Graph of the Intermittent Time Period

After winning back a ton of good will from fans with a five-game winning streak to begin a seven-game road trip, the Phillies dropped the final two games in St. Louis against the Cardinals, then came back to begin an eight-game homestand and were promptly shut out by the Miami Marlins for the tenth time this season. Only the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres have been shut out more times this season (11). The Phillies scattered six hits (five singles) and two walks as they dropped to seven games below .500 and six games out of first place in the NL East.

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Report: With Deadline on Horizon, Phillies Aggressive on Scouting Front

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies have been among the “most aggressive” in scouting other teams’ minor league systems as well as their parent teams. He adds that Cole Hamels is available. His full Phillies-centric blurb in the column:

While they’ve had a recent upswing, the Phillies pretty much know they have to regroup with younger players. Closer Jonathan Papelbon could draw interest, but likely only if the Phillies are willing to kick in some salary. Cliff Lee is hurt, but Hamels will draw interest. Everyone loves Chase Utley, but he has 10/5 rights, and shortstop Jimmy Rollins may be more willing to waive his no-trade clause. Outfielders Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, and John Mayberry appear to be available.Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe

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Phillies Win Fourth in a Row, Adding Intrigue to NL East Race

Behind seven and two-thirds strong innings from David Buchanan in Thursday night’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phillies won their fourth consecutive game, gaining ground on the first-place Washington Nationals in a packed NL East. Ryan Howard homered and drove in three runs and Jonathan Papelbon nailed down his 17th save with a perfect ninth inning.

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Phillies Bullpen Much Improved Lately

On Monday against the Atlanta Braves, Jonathan Papelbon blew his second save and reliever Justin De Fratus was inches away from allowing the game-winning run in the tenth inning. It’s a story we’ve seen countless times throughout the 2014 season, but it did not repeat itself — JDF was able to get an infield pop-up and a strikeout to wriggle out of the damage. The Phillies would go on to score five in the 13th inning and win by a 6-1 margin.

In that 13-inning affair, five Phillies relievers combined for six scoreless innings. It continued a trend of excellent Phillies relief pitching, at least since the month of June began. Entering Wednesday afternoon’s series finale at Turner Field, the bullpen had combined for a 2.79 ERA in 42 innings this month, the eighth-best mark among all 30 bullpens. It’s a sea change from the first two months. While there is a ton of variance in 10- and 20-inning samples for relievers, no one could argue that they were pitching anything but terribly as a unit.

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Crash Bag, Vol. 105: Do You Need to Know What a Plate Appearance is to be a Good GM?

@MattyMatty2000: “Completely serious: can you still be an effective GM if you don’t know the difference between a plate appearance and an at-bat?”

Yeah, so apparently this is a thing Ruben Amaro has trouble with. It’s possible he misspoke, or that he’s just messing with us, but it’s troubling. I’ve written my treatise on what makes a good GM, and it’s not strictly statistical literacy. A GM is a professional administrator, an executive, and he’s not doing the player evaluation on his own, and even if he was, the Phillies have better ways to evaluate hitters than batting average.

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Jimmy Rollins Officially Joins the Phillies Elite

From Ed Abbaticchio to Jon Zuber, Baseball-Reference.com lists 1,804 players as having stepped to the plate for the Phillies since their inception in 1883 and Jimmy Rollins has officially outhit every single one of them. He has surpassed every mythical name from Phillies past and every childhood hero for those of us (un?)fortunate enough to be raised Phillies fans. From Delahanty to Ashburn to Schmidt, Rollins now stands alone.

Rollins had barely touched first base to secure his new title before he was asked about whether he would accept a trade. The Phillies drank champagne while people passionately ticked off the reasons why Rollins shouldn’t be elected to Cooperstown. And I would be shocked if as Chase Utley toasted his teammate of 11 years, there wasn’t someone somewhere still talking about how Jimmy is lazy and/or selfish.

I know that it’s likely Jimmy’s days in Philadelphia are numbered. I know that his Hall of Fame credentials are borderline at best. And I also know that no matter what happens there will be fans that actively reject and/or dismiss his greatness in the same way Abreu’s critics and Howard’s critics and, yes, even Utley’s critics live on. I also don’t care.

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The Phillies’ Base Running Has Been Disastrous

John Mayberry, Jr. went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a three-run home run in Thursday afternoon’s series finale against the San Diego Padres. All in all, a pretty good day for him in what has been quite a productive season. Mayberry’s performance at the plate, particularly the home run which came in the seventh inning and bolstered the Phillies’ lead to 7-2, erased two base running blunders in which he was thrown out at home plate.

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Quick Domonic Brown Poll

Domonic Brown currently has a .252 weighted on-base average, which now ranks as the third-worst among 167 qualified hitters in baseball. Jedd Gyorko is way down at .215, Brad Miller can be found at .248, and Zack Cozart has eked ahead of Brown at .253. The MLB average for non-pitchers is .318, and the MLB avaerage for left fielders is .319. For those not familiar with wOBA, check out this FanGraphs glossary article.

As for stats most people may be more familiar with: Brown’s .213 batting average is the 13th-worst, his .263 on-base percentage is seventh-worst, and his .312 slugging percentage is in a virtual tie with three other players for sixth-worst.

I’m curious to see the breakdown of fans’ expectations for Brown going forward. Cast your vote below.

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A Major League GM Can’t Tell the Difference Between Plate Appearances and At-Bats. Yep, it’s Ruben Amaro, Jr.

Over at The Good Phight, David S. Cohen wrote about something Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. said while he was in the Phillies’ broadcast booth in yesterday’s series finale against the San Diego Padres. Speaking about Jimmy Rollins encroaching on Mike Schmidt‘s franchise hits record — Rollins is one hit away from tying him at 2,234 — Amaro expressed amazement that the two had such similar batting averages even though Schmidt had taken just under 900 more plate appearances over his career. As Cohen correctly notes, the difference is walks.

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John Mayberry, Jr. Quietly Having a Great Season

Outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. got the start at first base in place of Ryan Howard against San Diego Padres lefty Eric Stults in Thursday afternoon’s series finale. Mayberry, as he has done so often throughout his career, punished the southpaw along with his lefty mates in the bullpen. JMJ finished the day with a pair of doubles off of Stults and a three-run home run against reliever Alex Torres — all three hits coming off of lefties as the Phillies completed a series sweep in what has been their first winning streak since May 17-20.

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