Unfortunately, this seems to be a case of too little, too late, as the team is still buried in the standings. It would take a miracle to capture a playoff spot at this point.
Still, the recent results are encouraging, as there's no reason to believe that with a mostly healthy core, this team shouldn't be in playoff contention in 2013.
If they do want to be contenders in 2013, they will need better performance from their relief pitching. One player who the team expected to be a key bullpen cog has had a mostly dreadful season, but this week gave hope that he might be turning things around.
Featured Phillie of the Week: Antonio Bastardo
In 2011, Bastardo was a revelation. At first he was used as a lefty specialist, but due to injury, he was soon elevated into the eighth inning setup role. He excelled in that spot, and looked near unhittable at times.
And then, the calendar turned to September. Bastardo suddenly became ineffective. There were several theories for his sudden downturn: He was tipping pitches, he was tired, he lost his confidence. The 2011 Phillies didn't have many obvious weaknesses heading into the postseason, but Bastardo was becoming a bit of a concern.
As it turned out, Bastardo wasn't a factor in the postseason, but unfortunately for the Phillies, his late 2011 struggles carried over into this season.
He hasn't seemed to be able to find any sort of groove this season. Just when it looked like he might be getting back on track, he would go out, walk a couple of hitters and give up two or three runs.
This past week provided hope that he might be returning to his form of last year. He came in to face one batter in Saturday's win against the Nationals, and promptly struck him out. On Sunday, he followed that up by striking out the side in his one inning of work. Bastardo has actually struck out the last five batters he has faced.
If Bastardo truly has turned the corner, then the Phillies relief situation looks much brighter than it has for most of the season.
Ghost of Phillies Past: Barry Jones
Heading into the 1992, the Phillies felt very comfortable with their relief pitching. They already had Mitch Williams as their established closer, and to supplement him, they brought in righthander Barry Jones from Montreal to handle setup duties.
Jones had long been regarded as one of the best relievers in baseball. While he hadn't had his best season in 1991, that was believed to be partially because the Expos' uncertain relief situation forced him into a part-time role as closer.
It was thought that if he was used solely as a setup man, he would return to his former steady self. Sadly, that was not the case.
Jones continued to struggle. The 1992 Phillies were a disappointing last place team, and it seemed like on the few occasions that they actually had a lead in the eighth inning, Jones would blow it.
Midway through the season, the Phillies traded Jones to the Mets. It was a small consolation that he somehow pitched even worse for them.
Pennant Year Song of the Week
The Phillies' chances of making the postseason are slim. But at least this week gave them a small glimmer of hope. And so, this week's song comes from 1993: Reason to Believe by Rod Stewart
Phillies Related Tweet of the Week
From Dan Steinberg @dcsportsblog
Dave Jageler: "The Phillies, out of contention. All they have left to do is boo Jayson Werth."
This is so not true. Phillies fans also have to boo Scott Rolen and J.D. Drew.
And give Phillies fans a break. We're not used to our team being out of contention. Maybe Nats' fans could give us advice on how to handle it?
The Phillies have to hope that Bastardo can once again be a dependable relief pitcher. If he turns in another Barry Jones-like performance in 2013, their chances of contention will be greatly damaged.