Not including yesterday’s games, here are the standings in the NL East since July 28:

  W L GB PCT
ATL 31 21 - .596
FLA 30 23 1.5 .566
PHI 30 23 1.5 .566
WAS 20 31 10.5 .392
NYM 17 37 15 .315

Given that’s the case, thank goodness for the standings through July 28:

  W L GB PCT
PHI 58 40 - .592
FLA 52 48 7.0 .520
ATL 51 49 8.0 .510
NYM 48 51 10.5 .485
WAS 32 68 27.0 .320

The Phillies haven’t played badly in the second half. They should, however, be glad that the Marlins and Braves combined to go four and two games above .500 respectively in their first hundred games of the season.

And while the Marlins and Braves got better in the recent stretch of games, it’s also important to realize that the Phillies got worse.

In the 98 games to start the season the Phils went 58-40, but the starting pitching and the runs they allowed overall were both terrible compared to the next 53 games in which they went 30-23. Over the first 98 games they allowed about 4.63 runs per game and their starters threw to a 4.63 ERA with a 1.40 ratio. Over the next 53 games they were worse overall, but their starters were much better. The starters pitched to a 3.28 ERA and a 1.22 ratio, helping the Phillies cut their runs allowed per game to about 3.66 — almost a full run lower than they had allowed per game in the first 98 games of the season.

They made up for it in the first 98 with a monster offense, of course. Over the first 98 they scored about 5.48 runs per game. That was down to about 4.25 runs per game over the next 53.

Despite the improvement in the pitching recently, it hasn’t been enough to make up for the fact the Phillies are scoring so many fewer runs. Over the first 98 games the difference between the average number of runs the Phillies scored and allowed per game was about 0.85 (5.48 minus 4.63) For the next 53 games it was a lot lower — 4.25 minus 3.66 is 0.59.

Todd Zolecki’s blog has quotes from Manuel talking about using Happ out of the pen or even in the ninth inning.

And Manuel talks about the possibility of using Walker to close in this article.

The Phils are still hoping to get Myers, Park and Romero back before the end of the regular season.

College football fans might want to check out Sunday Morning Quarterbacks, a newish blog from a couple of guys who literally wrote the book on college football.