By Joseph Santoliquito

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s there, if the Phillies want it. They could win the National League East and avert playing in the one-game Wild Card game, while pushing their schedule to contender status at least two years ahead of where it should be.

But letting up in the Manny Machado sweepstakes didn’t help, and an offense that has produced 903 strikeouts (an average of 9.3 a game), with a team average of .236 (ranked 26th overall in MLB) isn’t going to fill the Phillies’ faithful with much optimism. Their .390 slugging percentage is 24th in the majors, and they’re 27th in total bases (1,233).

These aren’t startling revelations when it comes to the Phillies. That they’re 53-42 and in first place in the NL East is.

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The remaining teams of the Phillies’ 67 games left have a combined winning percentage of 51.3 percent (592-561) and eight of the 12 teams the Phillies will play have a .500 record or better.

The good news is that the Phillies do face the New York Mets and Miami Marlins a combined 21 more times this season; the bad news is the Phils have a combined 7-10 record against the two lowest teams in the National League East. The Phillies have 10 games total against division-leading Boston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs.

They also close the last two weeks of the season with seven games against Atlanta, which could determine the Phillies season.

It’s universally agreed the Phillies need more offensive help.

Otherwise, their 53-42 finish prior to the All-Star game could come crashing down and quickly. That success isn’t sustainable the way the Phillies’ offense is currently configured.

Washington has woefully underachieved so far. Figure on the Nationals, who play the Phillies nine more times this year, to begin having their collective talent show. The Braves are young like the Phillies, but unlike the Phillies, they’re among the best offensive teams in baseball, with some pitching that’s been slightly better than the Phillies (3.83 ERA to the Phils’ team 3.85).

The Phillies have shown that they can compete with an anemic offense and very good pitching. Whether that combination will work into October seems highly doubtful—unless a helpful bat is acquired.

Joseph Santoliquito