By Art Beitchman, DOCBLOB

A couple of weeks ago the Phillies played a four-game set with the Blue Jays and got bludgeoned, losing every game. The Phils didn’t even resemble a major league team, getting beat every which way, not really competing with the powerful Blue Jay lineup.

Then, they beat the Mets two out of three, losing the third game when the bullpen coughed up yet another save. If fact, the Phillies bullpen is the second worst in the majors with eight blown saves, clearly a big setback in a division that’s appears to be much weaker two months into the season.

Even though the Phils got pummeled last night in Miami, 14-5, the amazing element of the 2014 season is that they are still in the race for the NL East title, primarily because the rest of the division is so bad.

The Nationals and the Braves aren’t who we thought they were, allowing the Phils to hang around at less than five games back in the NL East. Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz (photo above), Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the old guys fans worried about, are having productive seasons. Even young Cody Asche, after a rough patch at third base and at the plate, has put some good games together and finally looks like a player who belongs in the big leagues.

With all the ups and downs so far this season, and still with more than four months of season left, the Phillies could still compete for a playoff berth if the old guys stay healthy and the Braves and Nationals keep playing down to rest of the division.

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