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Rocky mountain payback: Phillies vs. Rockies series preview

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The Phillies likely haven’t forgotten what happened in September 2018

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
Nolan Arenado: He’s no Maikel Franco
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

If you recall, the 2018 season didn’t end on a high note for the Phillies. The team that was leading the National League East as late as August 12th suffered an epic collapse in the last month and a half of the season. The nadir may have come in late September when the Phillies traveled to Colorado for a four-game set and were utterly demolished. The Phillies lost all four games by a combined score of 39-7, and it was about as pleasant to watch as it sounds.

But 2018 is over. The 2019 Phillies are not the same lifeless group that traveled to Denver to be slaughtered, but enough of them remain to carry a grudge. With the Rockies struggling out of the gate, I’m sure many of the Phillies who survived last season’s collapse would love to kick them when they’re down.

Colorado Rockies

Record: 6-12, Fifth place in National League West

What’s new with the Rockies?

The Rockies didn’t add much to the wild card winning team from 2018. The only acquisition of note was Daniel Murphy, who lasted all of ten at bats before getting sent to the injured list with a broken finger. Based on early results, there is some grumbling that the Rockies should have been a bit more active in the offseason.

Aren’t the Rockies usually a high scoring team?

Typically, teams that play home games in Denver have good offensive numbers, but that isn’t the case with the 2019 Rockies so far. They rank 13th in the NL in OPS and 11th in runs scored. They do lead the league in one category: Strikeouts.

Home cooking

Perhaps the Rockies’ slow start - especially on offense - is partly related to their schedule, since they’ve played 13 of their 18 games so far on the road. On the other hand, of the five games they’ve played at Coors Field, they’ve managed to win a grand total of zero. So maybe a trip home won’t cure all that ails them.

Products of Coors Field?

The Rockies’ slow offensive starts gives credence to the belief that their hitters aren’t as good as their statistics would indicate, and they’ve received a boost from playing in high altitude. For instance, many people tout Nolan Arenado as the best third baseman in baseball. But maybe he should be considered the second best?

Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story also made the All-Star Game in 2018, but based on their home/road splits, it isn’t clear that they would have qualified if they played for any other team. If these guys want to prove that their lofty offensive numbers aren’t just a product of Colorado’s thin air, they’re not doing a great job of it.

What about the pitching?

The Rockies’ hitters will probably enjoy a boost coming home, but the pitchers might not enjoy it as much. Thursday’s starter Kyle Freeland is coming off a start where a blister on his finger bothered him. Facing the Phillies’ lineup in Colorado with a blister doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.

German Marquez is currently the only pitcher in baseball to have thrown a complete game, accomplishing the task in his most recent start. Of course that came against the weak-hitting Giants. In the start prior to that, he allowed five runs to the Braves, so maybe we shouldn’t anoint him as an ace quite yet.

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
Can German Marquez pitch as well at home?
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Antonio Senzatela pitched well in his first start, but that came in San Diego’s spacious Petco Park, where you can get away with a few mistakes. He has a 5.04 career ERA at Coors Field,

The finale goes to Jon Gray who already has three losses on his record in 2019. That is a fitting follow-up to his 2018 season when he led the National League in earned runs allowed. This will be his second Coors Field start, after giving up five runs in the first one.

Dahl Star

David Dahl really seems to enjoy facing the Phillies. In seven career games against the Phils, he has four home runs and a 1.324 OPS. In that horrid series last September, he went 8-19 with home runs in each of the four games.

The Phillies almost caught a break, as he’s been on the injured list, but he’s expected to return to the active roster for Friday. Hopefully the Phillies will have figured out some sort of answer for him.

Philadelphia Phillies v Colorado Rockies
David Dahl put a beating on the Phillies in 2018
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Cure for what ails him?

You wouldn’t think Coors Field wouldn’t be a good place for a struggling pitcher to make a start, but perhaps a trip to Colorado will help Aaron Nola turn his season around. The previous time he started there, he went seven strong innings, striking out seven.

Trivia

Which current Phillie has the most career home runs at Coors Field?

Prediction

It seems likely that the Rockies will find a way to win a game at home at some point this season, so calling for a Phillies sweep is unrealistic. And aside from Nola, none of the Phillies’ scheduled starters have fared well in Colorado. So it seems fair to expect a split of the series.