Recent slumps make it hard to find Phillies' All-Star representative

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Two weeks away from the 2016 MLB All-Star Game and about a week from the revealing of the NL and AL reserves, no Phillie stands out as the team's clear-cut representative for the Midsummer Classic. 

This exercise would have been much simpler in the beginning of June.

• On June 7, Jeanmar Gomez picked up his 19th save. He led the majors then and had a 2.61 ERA. But he's made just five appearances since with one save. His ERA is now 3.09.

• Hector Neris, who, by the way, currently leads the majors with 39 appearances, had a 2.05 ERA through June 3. He proceeded to allow runs in four of five appearances from June 4 to June 15 as his ERA soared to 3.15. He's rebounded since with six straight scoreless innings.

• At the end of play on June 6, Odubel Herrera was hitting .320 with a .428 on-base percentage. He's hit .236 with a .273 OBP in 19 games since. 

• Vince Velasquez looked like an All-Star through the season's first six weeks, but after posting a 2.42 ERA through eight starts, he allowed 12 runs in 13⅓ innings in four games before going on the DL. 

• Aaron Nola looked like an All-Star until about three weeks ago, when a string of four ugly starts increased his ERA from 2.65 to 4.45.

• Jerad Eickhoff has been the Phillies' most consistent pitcher — probably their most consistent player — in June, but there are just too many starting pitchers with an ERA lower than his 3.36 or WHIP lower than his 1.20.

All 30 teams must be represented at the All-Star Game. The starters are selected by the fans; the reserves and pitchers are named via the Player Ballot (a vote of the players, managers and coaches) and by the All-Star Game managers. Then there's the Final Vote, which accounts for the 34th member of each league's All-Star roster.

Herrera has been the best Phillie in 2016, despite the recent drop-off in performance. He's been in the top-five in the majors in on-base percentage for most of the season and would probably be up there in runs scored if he had even a league-average offense behind him.

But the nod might not go to Herrera because of the National League's crowded outfield picture. The assumption here is the following outfielders will make it: Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes, Starling Marte, Marcell Ozuna, Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Gregory Polanco and either Jay Bruce or Adam Duvall (no other Reds are worthy). 

That's eight outfielders who have better numbers than Herrera. Last season, eight outfielders made the NL All-Star roster. It will be close. 

From a purely strategic standpoint, Gomez probably makes the most sense as the Phils' representative. Like it or not, this game still counts, and Gomez would be a solid situational option out of the bullpen if the NL needs a groundball double play late in the game. Gomez could potentially contribute more to a win for the NL than would a ninth outfielder.

The Phillies have seven more games before All-Star rosters are announced next Tuesday, July 5. That slate of games will be important to figuring out which Phillie goes to San Diego. 

If Herrera heats back up, his chances increase. 

If Gomez picks up a few more saves to get himself back in the top five, it could be him. 

Or if Neris' scoreless streak extends this week, perhaps NL manager Terry Collins would take him in hopes of a few missed bats late in the game. Collins has seen some of Neris' best work this season — Neris has pitched 6⅓ scoreless innings against the Mets this season with 11 strikeouts and three baserunners allowed. Fair or not, that could play a role in Collins' decision.

The Phillies' only real dark horse candidate is Maikel Franco, who obviously does not have All-Star numbers this season. He's hitting .240/.302/.427 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs. His batting average is 40 points lower than it was last season, his OBP 41 points lower and his slugging percentage 70 points lower. Franco ranks 10th among NL third basemen with a .730 OPS. The only way he could place himself in the conversation is by hitting a handful of homers over the next week. And even then, the NL, with Nolan Arenado, Matt Carpenter, Kris Bryant and Jake Lamb, appears well-stocked at third base without him.

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