Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

What to expect from the Philadelphia Phillies in the second half

I’ve taken a look at both the good and bad from the Phillies in the first half. Now it’s time to look ahead to the second half .

Barring a miracle, the Phillies are not going to make the playoffs. I suppose that Cliff Lee could come back healthy, Kyle Kendrick and Dom Brown could have flashbacks to the first half of 2013, and Ryan Howard could have a flashback to 2009.

I suppose that I could also win the lottery tomorrow.

Despite the team being out of contention, it doesn’t mean there won’t be any interest surrounding the Phillies in the second half. In fact, they stand to be one of the most talked about teams in the coming weeks.

Here are some of what figure to be the key storylines surrounding the Phillies in the second half.

Improved play

I feel that the Phillies have underacheived a bit. It would be a reach to think they are capable of making the playoffs, but I don’t think their record truly reflects the talent level either. For instance, I think their awful record at home is somewhat of a fluke, and should improve a bit in the second half.

The Phillies struggled without Antonio Bastardo in 2013. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming Lee and Hamels aren’t traded and remain healthy, they should give the team a good shot at victory in their starts. As for the rest of the rotation, at least they can usually keep the team in games. But they’ll need a strong effort from the bullpen.

Last year, that would have been a frightening prospect. Remember that the Phillies were actually a .500 team at the All-Star Break last year, before falling apart in the second half. Much of that collapse was due to the bullpen.

Jonathan Papelbon had a shaky second half, and Antonio Bastardo was suspended for 50 games. The Phillies were left without any relievers who could be counted on to pitch with any sort of effectiveness.

Hopefully, the improvement we’ve seen from the relievers this season hasn’t been a fluke and we can avoid that kind of ugliness in the coming months.

Trades

There is a misconception that Ruben Amaro won’t sell off any of his veteran players. While they have yet to undergo a full fire sale, the Phillies have been sellers at the past two trade deadlines. They’ll likely trade some players, although I’m not sure we’re going to see any “blockbuster” deals.

It only makes sense to trade Cliff Lee if they get something valuable in return. Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With Cliff Lee rehabbing from an injury, his trade value is low. Some people feel this is proof that they should have traded him last year. However, this implies that the Phillies were offered a fair return in exchange for Lee. (This is a stretch, considering that Lee has been traded three times before and hasn’t fetched a good return yet.)

Unless the return is respectable, it doesn’t make sense to trade Lee. While they would save money, they’d also need to find another starting pitcher for next season, and would probably use a decent chunk of that savings on an inferior player.

The Phillies have shown that they’ll trade players who either don’t fit into their future plans or they feel are replaceable. That’s why Cole Hamels is unlikely to be dealt, but Marlon Byrd might be. Corner outfielders are much easier to find than ace-level pitchers.

New faces

Based on the fact that he started the final three games before the break, I’ll assume that the team takes a long look

Expect to see more of Grady Sizemore in the second half. Image Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

at Grady Sizemore in the second half. Despite being several years younger than Sizemore, the Phillies pretty much know what they’re going to get out of Ben Revere. Sizemore might not come close to matching his former greatness, but he has a much higher ceiling than Revere.

Marlon Byrd’s name has been heard in trade rumors, so he might be leaving town soon. This means we might soon be in store for another round of Darin Ruf, outfielder. If there are any people who really like seeing good defense in the corner outfield spots, the second half might not be very fun to watch.

In addition to Byrd, we might see Cesar Hernandez get another shot as an outfielder, and maybe even a few games from Cody Asche. This would be because we might get the major league debut of…

Maikel Franco

Franco got off to a slow start at Triple A, but he has heated up lately. The Phillies have stated that they want to be patient with Franco, and don’t feel the need to rush him to the major leagues. But if Franco continues to hit well in the minors, he might force their hands.

Yes, this second half won’t be quite as exciting as in 2011, when we were wondering if the Phillies would break the franchise record for victories in a season. But that doesn’t mean that the team will be any less interesting to follow.

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