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No wiggle room: Phillies vs. Rockies series preview

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The schedule makers giveth. Will the Phillies taketh?

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies
Bryce Harper welcomes the chance to face Rockies pitching again
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s understandable that the Phillies would lose two out of three in Milwaukee, the series loss didn’t help their postseason chances. Now, one of the worst road teams in baseball will be coming to Philadelphia for a four-game series. If the Phillies want to catch the Braves for the division title, they can’t afford to squander this opportunity.

Colorado Rockies

Record: 63-77 (Fourth place in National League West)

The last time they met

The Phillies dropped two of three in Colorado when they visited in late April. The finale showed us what happens when Chase Anderson attempts to start a game in Coors Field in 2021: A 12-2 loss.

Now those are some splits!

The Rockies have been a very good team at home this season, playing to a .625 winning percentage in Colorado. Away from Coors Field has been a different story: They are 18-50 in road games, which is a .265 winning percentage.

As bad as that sounds, its somehow not even the worst road record in the division, as the Diamondbacks have been even worse. But the Diamondbacks do not concern the Phillies this week, the Rockies do. When you’ve got an awful road team at your home stadium for four games, you need to win at least three of those games.

Rocky Mountain guys

Looking at some of the Rockies’ individual players’ home-road splits, you can see why they’ve been so much worse in road games.

C.J. Cron won the National League’s Player of the Month award for August, and while his overall numbers are good, he’s done the majority of that damage at home. His .747 OPS on the road is just okay. Trevor Story has earned several MVP votes over the last few years, but he probably won’t be doing so this year, largely because his batting average is under .200 outside of Colorado. Charlie Blackmon has done his share of damage to the Phillies over the years, but his power has been minimal outside of Coors Field, with just two road home runs for the season.

The pitching hasn’t been much better. You expect a Rockies pitching staff to have poor numbers at home. But their staff’s 4.61 home ERA is actually better than the 5.06 mark they put up on the road.

Least valuable player

I would very much like it if there was a successful Major League pitcher named Chi Chi. But thus far in his career, it would be a stretch to call Rockies starter Chi Chi Gonzalez a success. His career ERA is 5.65, and his 6.50 mark this year puts him in line to finish a second consecutive season above 6.00. The Phillies will face him in the series finale on Sunday. Let’s hope he doesn’t suddenly morph into that successful Chi Chi I was hoping for.

Somehow, he hasn’t even been the worst pitcher on the Rockies though. That dishonor goes to Yency Almonte, who checks in with a crisp 8.44 ERA.

While it behooves the Rockies to get a good look at younger players in a season where they’re clearly not making the playoffs, that’s still pretty awful. This guy has been so bad that if the Phillies traded for him, Joe Girardi would be using him in every high-leverage mid-inning situation.

Best to do it themselves

One reason the Phillies can’t afford to lose many (any?) games is because the Braves’ schedule over the next week does not appear especially challenging. Their next seven games are at home, and consist of one more game against the Nationals, three against the Marlins (Who are generally not a tough opponent when they play any other NL East team), and these same Rockies.

While an “easy” game can often be anything but, the Phillies can’t count on getting much help.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: In game four of the 2008 NLDS, Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run, Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth had back-to-back shots in the third, and Burrell added another for good measure in the eighth. SLDH got it right.

This series’ question: The Rockies’ first game at Citizens Bank Park came on August 9, 2004. They won 4-2 after a Phillies pitcher - who pitched for the Rockies the previous season - blew a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Who was the pitcher?

What to expect

  • The Phillies are scheduled to face only one left-handed pitcher this series, and that’s usually good news for their offense. Look for the bats to show life this series.
  • I predicted a good start from Aaron Nola last time out, and he let me down. I have no idea what to expect from him this season, so I’m now expecting the unexpected. Fortunately for him, with his start coming on Sunday afternoon, many fans will have their attention elsewhere.
  • Feels like a two-homer series for Brad Miller.

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

The Eagles have better talent than many people seem to think - especially on defense. The problem is, many of their best players are on the older side, and depth is thin. Considering their poor recent injury history, that’s a dangerous combination.

Offensively, there’s promising young talent, but the quarterback is a huge question mark. I don’t think Jalen Hurts is the long-term answer, but based on his leadership traits and running ability, I think he’ll be okay for this season.

I could see a case for the Eagles finishing anywhere from first to fourth in their division this season. My “official” prediction is that they fall somewhere in the middle and go 7-10.