Phillies-killers aren’t about nuance. They’re about blunt force trauma. They’re about punching the Phillies as hard as possible for six or seven games a season (more if they’re on a divisional opponent). They’re about being completely genial, normal people who for some reason walk into Citizens Bank Park and have their eye balls turn a hellish red, their mind fill with thunderstorms, and find themselves with a full body itch that is relieved only by beating the Phillies.
There’s a few Rockies who have been around long enough to have seen their share of Phillies teams, but Mark Reynolds and Ian Desmond have never successfully taken the Phillies to task.
I know what’s you’re thinking now: “It’s that Nolan Arenado, isn’t it. That defender who walks on air and the ninth player in history to hit 1,000 home runs for the Rockies. Gaah, he’s so good-looking and seamlessly productive. Why does he get everything?? When am I going to get mine?! I hate you, Nolan Arenado, I truly hate you!!!!! [sound a wall being weakly punched, then quiet whimpering].”
But no. While Arenado is an elite talent of the National League, and the future fantasy acquisition of Phillies fans who thought the Rockies would be too stupid to lock him up, he’s not the epic Phillies-killer you might think: .264 BA, .685 OPS and 4 HR in 40 games against the Phillies in his career, and merely a .197 hitter with a .585 OPS and 3 HR in 16 games at Citizens Bank Park.
It’s Charlie Blackmon, which you already know if you started reading this post with your eyes open and saw the image at the top. A .342 hitter with a 1.036 in 45 career games against the Phillies; a .314 hitter with a 1.056 OPS in 23 games at CBP. Within that mountain man’s beard is a potent anger that is directed at, apparently, all things Philadelphia. Does Charlie Blackmon hate the Declaration of Independence? Is he a filthy lobsterback loyalist? These are fair questions.
He lurked in the background, and from a lack of exposure or being befuddled by Tyler Cloyd (he went 0-for-3 against him in 2012!), it wasn’t until 2014 that Blackmon emerged as a slayer of Phillies pitching. That year, he hit .346. In 2016, that BA jumped to .456 in 31 AB. Part of this is because the Phillies were throwing David Hernandez and Edubray Ramos and Jonathan Pettibone at him over the years. It was also because Blackmon was becoming a good hitter who could hit mediocre-at-best pitching.
Now, the Phillies are better, but their pitching still has some of the guys Blackmon has been feasting on for years. The Rockies will see Cole Irvin, Aaron Nola, and Jerad Eickhoff this series. Obviously Irvin will be new to them, but Blackmon is 4-for-11 lifetime vs. Eickhoff and 6-for-10 vs. Nola, having already homered off him this year. Speaking of home runs, do you recall Blackmon’s first one of 2019?
Blackmon demanded the press come to him so that he could gloat publicly.
“It’s just one swing and I’m not going to make too much of it.”
Really? Not make too much of it? His teammates certainly thought it was a big deal when they mobbed him at home plate.
“Well, that was a game that looked like it was going to be a tough loss,” Blackmon said. “To our credit, the guys kept fighting.”
What?! That was... diplomatic and uninteresting. There’s no smack talk, there’s no back-handed slaps. It’s just Blackmon, crediting his teammates and downplaying his involvement in the win. It’s like... it doesn’t even matter to him. Beating the Phillies is just as normal as getting up in the morning. Like that quote from Rambo IV.
“When you’re pushed, [beating the Phillies with a walk-off dagger]’s as easy as breathing.”
But we all know about Blackmon by now and his history of daggering the Phillies. The next question has become, who is waiting to inherit the mantle, or even join Blackmon in his quest to crush the Phillies into dust?
Trevor Story has only been a bit of a nightmare—a .347 hitter with a 1.151 OPS and 13 home runs in 19 games vs. the Phillies and a .421 hitter in five games at Citizens Bank Park. But that’s a limited time. The post about how teeth-grindingly good Story has been against the Phillies will come in a few years. Story will send an Aaron Nola fastball into the purple mountains majesty of Denver, and a grizzled old Blackmon will nod from the dugout, his Methuselah beard now a ghostly white; his callused hands resting on the walking stick he carved with his teeth out of the bat he used to kill the Phillies years before.
It’s no fun facing a Phillies-killer, especially after dropping three of four to the Ryan Braun and the Brewers, and especially in the midst of a tough stretch of series against competitors who are better than the Royals and all of the NL East.
Fortunately, unlike Braun, there’s a way to shut Blackmon down: Get him out of Denver. He’s a .211 hitter on the road this year (and a .397 hitter in Coors Field). He’s also not hitting lefties as well, and with Cole Irvin starting game one, there’s a chance Blackmon’s kryptonite will be on the mound.
There’s another route the Phillies could take as well:in Coors Field)
Charlie Blackmon said postgame, “I feel like I’m pretty terrible on special days.”— Patrick Lyons (@PatrickDLyons) May 12, 2019
Maybe it's the special uniforms, I surmised.
"First at bat, I wore those pink sleeves and I struck out. I took them off and I hit two home runs in a row."
With Irvin pitching and a non-Coors Field venue, the Phillies have the best chance at keeping Blackmon off the bases tonight. Now they just need to invent a holiday between now and first pitch and they’ll be golden.