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MLB: SEP 10 Rockies at Phillies
Charlie Blackmon saves his best for the Phillies
Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Funky town: Phillies vs. Rockies series preview

The slumping Phillies are headed to another stadium that has given them plenty of trouble in recent years

The Phillies are in a funk. They’ve lost five of their last six games, and the one game they did win was a classic “We’ve been losing, but everything is going to go right for one day” game that is almost always followed by an immediate return to the losing ways. That’s one reason I couldn’t get too excited by Saturday night’s win. I suspected that it was just a blip on the radar, and they’d play poorly on Sunday.

Why are the Phillies in such a funk? Mostly because their starting pitching has been bad, and their offense can’t deliver timely hits. (Aside from that, they’ve been great!) They’ve hit some home runs, but it feels like the majority of those home runs have come at unimpactful times. For example, Bryce Harper’s two longballs have both come when the Phillies were trailing by large deficits late in games.

But maybe the Phillies’ funk can be explained away by having to play four games in Miami, a city where they simply can’t seem to win. Unfortunately, things might not get immediately better since they’re headed to Coors Field, a place that has been equally inhospitable to the Phillies in recent years.

Colorado Rockies

Record: 6-3 (Third place in National League West)

The last time they met

As part of their furious push to miss the playoffs, the Phillies welcomed the Rockies to Philadelphia for a four-game set in September and dropped three out of four.

What’s new with the Rockies

Nobody could quite figure out what the Rockies were doing this past offseason. Over the past two years, they’ve gotten rid of All-Star infielders Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. That would signal that they’re rebuilding, so fine, whatever. But then they signed 32-year-old first baseman C.J. Cron to an extension and paid above market value for 30-year-old Kris Bryant.

To the Rockies’ credit, their moves seem to be working out in the early going. Cron has an OPS of 1.117 with five home runs, and the Rockies are off to a 6-3 start.

Boo this man

At age 35, Charlie Blackmon’s best days are behind him, and he’s batting just .194 in 2022. But don’t be shocked if he has a resurgence this week. In 13 games against the Phillies at Coors Field, he has an OPS of 1.049.

A calamity at Coors

Since the start of the 2017 season, the Phillies are 3-11 at Coors Field (Thankfully they did not have to travel there for the COVID-shortened 2020 season). The Phillies’ failures in Colorado can’t just be written off to the Rockies being good, because while they were a playoff team in 2017 and 2018, they finished with a worse record than the Phillies in 2019 and 2021.

What is it about Coors that vexes the Phillies so? Do they not play well in high altitude? Are the Rockies still trying to get revenge for the 2009 NLDS? Back when Gabe Kapler was the manager, I had another theory about why the Phillies struggled in the state of Colorado, but I can’t imagine that same theory applies to Joe Girardi.

I’d like to point out that the Phillies will be playing in Colorado on April 20th, so if anyone ever wanted to take a road trip to see the Phils play, this feels like it might be an ideal time to go. Based on their history, you probably won’t see the Phillies win, but there’s also a good chance you’d be mellow about the loss.

Panic vs. annoyance

Nobody is happy about the current state of the Phillies, but it seems like there’s a big difference in the ways some people are dealing with the team’s sub-optimal start.

It is perfectly understandable to be annoyed at the Phillies right now. You were promised “SMASH THE BELL” and instead you’re getting “The pitchers are ahead of the hitters early in the season.” Instead of Cy Young runner-up Zack Wheeler, we’ve seen “This is actually his Spring Training” Zack Wheeler.

But if you’re panicking about the team, you probably need to get a grip. Guys like Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Wheeler aren’t going to underperform to this level all season. (Unless Wheeler actually has an injury. If that’s the case, then I agree some panicking might be justified.) You can be annoyed at losing yet another series to the Marlins without jumping off a bridge because they’re a game below .500 ten games into the season.

On the other hand, if part of your pessimism stems from having a manager who seems to have no clue how to push the right buttons or how to nurture young players...you might be onto something.

Jhoulys vs. Jeurys

For years I’ve gotten Rockies reliever Jhoulys Chacin confused with Phillies reliever Jeurys Familia. The confusion is somewhat understandable since they’re both relievers whose first names start with J and include a U and a Y, but not necessarily where you expect them to be.

Chacin is a 14-year veteran who spent his early years as a starter with the Rockies before bouncing around baseball, and eventually ending up back in Colorado in a relief role. Familia has spent his entire career as a reliever, most of it with the Mets. Chacin has the edge in career WAR (20.5 vs. 7.2), but Familia has the only All-Star Game selection between the two.

If any readers feel like doing some research, you can try to see if there’s ever been a game where both men were involved in the decision.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Rhys Hoskins (59) and Maikel Franco (48) are the two Phillies to have hit 40+ road home runs since the start of the 2012 season. (Congrats to Bryce Harper who joined them this weekend!) AlwaysSundayInPhilly was first to get it.

This series’ question: Coors Field is supposed to be a home run haven, but since the start of the aforementioned 2017 season, only seven Phillies have hit home runs there. Name them. (Whoever names the most wins.)

Non-Phillies thought

The first trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder came out today. TL/DR: I’m excited for this movie.

I’m a sucker for trailers, and I have seen every MCU movie, but I’m really excited about this one. Partly because the movie features the same team from the excellent Ragnarok; Partly because the trailer features Guns N’ Roses; And partly because it feels like this movie might actually get the MCU moving again.

It’s been almost three years since Endgame, and it feels like almost nothing of importance has happened since then. When the first Iron Man came out, you knew they were building towards The Avengers, and when the Avengers came out, you knew they were building to the Infinity Gauntlet.

But since then? It feels like most of the movies have been filler with no grand arc that they’re building towards. (I suppose the “multiverse” has been somewhat of an overarching theme, but that often feels like an attempt to reconcile all their intellectual property more than anything.)

Part of the problem is that aside from Spider-Man, the post-Endgame movies and shows have all featured B-list (or lower) characters. So that’s why its exciting to actually see Thor. And the Guardians of the Galaxy! (I know they started out as B-list characters, but thanks to the Thanos/Infinity stone tie-ins, they felt more crucial.)

Maybe the problem is that I should be able to appreciate each movie on its own merits and not worry about how it ties into a larger saga. But in my defense, this is how Marvel has trained me to think! When you spend a decade emphasizing that movies take place in a shared universe and they’re all building towards something else, it’s hard to just enjoy any one single movie on its own.

Closing thought

As I said last series, just because a team has struggled in a given stadium in the past, it doesn’t mean they’ll always struggle there. But considering the funk the Phillies currently find themselves in, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the struggles at Coors continue for another year.

See? It can be done: Phillies 8, Nationals 2

Gamethread 10/1: Phillies at Nationals, game 2

Capital punishment: Nationals 13, Phillies 4