Philadelphia Phillies' Kody Clemens, third from right, and teammates celebrate after he drove in the winning run in the team's baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, June 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 3-2. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Last week, the Phillies went into Citi Field to play a series against the Mets. It did not go well.

New York basically ran the Phils out of town, with Philadelphia scoring just three runs total across all three games. Once again, Phillies players found themselves looking up at their rivals in the standings, a Mets logo firmly imprinted on each of their foreheads.

One week later, the Phillies are suddenly ahead of their NL East rivals. 

After winning their fifth straight game Thursday night, the Phils enter their weekend series against the Dodgers at 30-32, a half-game better than New York, who were swept in absolutely torturous fashion by the front-running Atlanta Braves.

The pain for the Mets doesn’t end there. They have now lost six in a row and dropped five games in the standings to the Phils since their meeting a week ago. New York has ridden the struggle bus for most of the season, dealing with many of the same issues the Phillies have — lackluster starting pitching and anemic offensive performances.

They’re not alone. Last year’s National League playoff teams have been struggling through the first nine weeks of this season. The two teams the Phils beat in the postseason last year, the Cardinals and Padres, are also having a rough go.

St. Louis has been one of the worst teams in baseball, and sit at 26-37 heading into the weekend, a whopping seven games out of the wild card race — just two NL squads, the Nationals and Rockies, hold worse records. Despite a lineup with perennial All-Star candidates in Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, the Cards can’t do anything right this year and are likely to turn into sellers at the trade deadline.

And after an off-season spending spree, San Diego is just 29-33, a game behind the Phils and a half-game behind New York. Despite a lineup littered with studs like Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis, Jr., they can’t seem to get out of their own way, either. 

There are lots of reasons all four teams have failed to gain traction, and it’s fair to note some upstart teams like the Marlins (35-28, winners of six straight!), Pirates (32-29), Giants (32-30) and Reds (29-34) are doing much better than expected.
On this week’s edition of Hittin’ Season, I was joined by Washington Post national baseball writer Chelsea Janes as we discussed the plight of these National League teams and which of them she thinks will end up reaching the postseason — spoiler alert: good news, Phils fans! — and which will fall short.

John Stolnis grew up in Delco as a rabid fan of all Philadelphia sports, but the Phillies have always held a special place in his heart, particularly those disappointing Juan Samuel-led teams of the late...