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One stop shopping: Phillies vs. Rockies series preview

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The Phillies take on a Rockies team loaded with potential midseason trade targets

MLB: Game Two-New York Mets at Colorado Rockies
German Marquez could be in a different uniform by the end of the season
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s Coors Field hasn’t proven very hospitable for the Phillies in recent years. They were a combined 1-7 over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and many of losses weren’t even that competitive. The reasons for the Phillies’ struggles aren’t obvious. While the 2018 Rockies were pretty good, winning one of the National League’s Wild Card spots, the 2019 edition was not, racking up a total of just 71 wins.

One off-the-wall theory for the Phillies’ struggles: Then-manager Gabe Kapler really enjoyed some of the less-stringent laws in place in the state of Colorado.

The good news for the Phillies: Much like the 2019 version, the 2021 Rockies do not appear to be a strong team. They traded their franchise player away this past offseason after he spent a year talking about how much he hated being there, and their All-Star shortstop appears to be counting the days until he can leave as well. As long as the Phillies’ starting pitching holds up (which is admittedly an immense if), they have a good chance of finally winning some games in Colorado.

And you might want to get familiar with the Rockies’ players, because depending on how ambitious Dave Dombrowski is feeling before the trade deadline, there’s a chance one or two of the Rockies’ players could make his way to the Phillies’ roster later this year.

Colorado Rockies

Record: 6-12 (Fifth place in National League West)

The manager

Bud Black is in his fifth year as manager of the Rockies, coming after eight and a half (he was fired midseason) seasons with the Padres. It’s not entirely clear why he’s had such a lengthy managerial career since his teams have not been all that successful. He’s led his teams to as many divisional titles as I have (zero, in case you were wondering), and his career winning percentage is .483.

He did win the National League Manager of the Year in 2010 for leading the Padres to a second place finish, so I guess that’s something. And that gave me a thought: If the Rockies are fans of guys living off of achievements from years ago, maybe they’d be willing to trade the Phillies something useful in exchange for Vince Velasquez.

The last time they met

While the Phillies haven’t fared well in Coors Field, when the Rockies came to Philadelphia in May 2019, they did very well, sweeping the three-game series.

The wrong cousin

This past offseason, they traded star third baseman Nolan Arenado for pennies on the dollar, and while that’s great for the Cardinals, so far it hasn’t worked out all that well for the Rockies. Arenado’s primary replacement at third has been his cousin Josh Fuentes. It seems that the talent wasn’t equally distributed along the family tree since Fuentes is batting just .179 this season, and has yet to draw a walk.

A sad Story

Trevor Story has been one of the league’s best shortstops over the past few seasons, but he has not risen above the team-wide malaise this season. The two-time Silver Slugger winner has zero home runs, and a year after leading the league in stolen bases, he’s been thrown out on two of his three attempts this year.

This has led to rampant speculation that he’s going to be traded at some point. Yankees fans are practically pre-ordering his jersey already.

Beware the Blackmon

Charlie Blackmon has this annoying habit of crushing Phillies pitching. His career OPS against them is an impressive 1.023. You may recall the time he hit three home runs in one game against them:

Or perhaps the time he hit a walkoff home run in the 12th inning:

Blackmon is off to an awful start this season, but probably views this series as a great chance to get things turned around. Phillies pitchers should still be VERY careful when pitching to him.

Quick look at the Rockies’ scheduled starters

German Marquez has emerged as a solid starting pitcher for the Rockies. In his most recent outing, he pitched a seven-inning complete game against the Mets.

Much like Story, his name has been whispered in trade rumors. You might think that a good 26 year-old starting pitcher is the type of player the Rockies would want to build around, but you’d also think the team would want to build around an All-Star third baseman who they just signed to a long-term deal two years before.

Anotnio Senzatela has been extremely inconsistent. He’s had two starts where he was hit around rather badly - he gave up three home runs in 2.2 innings at Dodger Stadium, but also had two very strong starts. The good news is that so far he’s pitched well in every other start, and his last outing was a good one, so you do the math.

Speaking of players rumored to be on the trade market, Jon Gray has bounced back from a rough 2020 season. Since he’s due to be a free agent at season’s end, it will be interesting to see what teams in need of a mid-rotation starter (one team immediately comes to mind) will be willing to pay for a rental.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Hector Neris earned both a win and a loss in the 2019 series between the Phillies and Giants. Bilzo2 was the first with the correct answer.

This series’ question: Who is the Phillies’ franchise career leader in hits at Coors Field?

What to expect

  • Vince Velasquez makes his first start of the season on Friday, an event that pretty much every Phillies fan is dreading. While Vinny and Coors seems like a bad combination, he’s already had four starts there in his career. One was disastrous, but the other three weren’t awful. Look for him to last about five innings and give up three runs. (You know, the same line he’s had in about 75% of his career starts.)
  • Andrew McCutchen will start to turn his season around with a big series that includes a home run.
  • One game will feature a blown lead by both bullpens.

Closing thought that may or may not be relevant to the series

The All-Star Game was famously moved to Coors Field this season, and will be the second time the game was held there. The first time was in 1998, and the Phillies only had one representative (Curt Schilling). Here’s hoping the Phillies get a couple more players on the team this time around.