The Philadelphia Phillies (24-19) are coming off just their third series loss of the season after dropping the final three games of a four-game set to the visiting Milwaukee Brewers this week.
One of those series defeats came at the hands of the Colorado Rockies (20-22), who took three of four games from the Phillies out at Coors Field in Denver back in mid-April.
Now a month later, the Phillies will try to avoid losing four straight games for the first time in the 2019 campaign when they host the Rockies for three over this weekend at Citizens Bank Park.
Colorado, an NL Wildcard playoff team in each of the last two years, has a losing record over the first seven weeks. However, manager Bud Black has them playing much better of late. The Rockies have gone 17-10 since the first two weeks or so. They have lost just one series (5-1-3) over the last month.
The Rockies currently sit in fourth place in the National League West Division, 7.5 games off the pace set by the Los Angeles Dodgers. They are tied with the New York Mets, three games off the second NL Wildcard pace being set by another of their division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Colorado ranks 5th in runs scored and second in extra-base hits (tops in triples) in the National League. As a team, the Rockies home-road splits reveal two entirely different portraits. At home, Colorado is slashing .284/.354/.504, while on the road their batters have produced just a .217/.271/.382 slash line. However, since Citizens Bank Park is such a positive offensive environment, those negative road numbers may prove less relevant.
The Rockies attack is led by the consensus top third baseman in the game in 28-year-old Nolan Arenado, who is slashing .314/.360/.598 with a team-high 11 homers and 35 RBIs. Veteran right fielder Charlie Blackmon is slashing .295/.359/.566 and leads the club with 25 extra-base hits.
Blackmon has become another in the group of modern day Phillies-killers across Major League Baseball. He enjoys a career .342/.421/.615 slash line with 10 homers and 22 extra-base hits over 184 career plate appearances against the Phillies. At Citizens Bank Park, Blackmon is slashing .314/.385/.671 with seven of those home runs. At least we won’t have to hear “The Outfield” or Coors fans singing “….TONIGHT!” during his at-bats here in Philly.
All-star shortstop Trevor Story leads the club in runs scored and stolen bases and is second in homers and RBIs. However, he injured his knee in a collision with outfielder Raimel Tapia at Fenway Park on Wednesday. “Just a knee bruise,” he said per Nick Groke with The Athletic. “It’s good news for sure.”
The Rockies are rumored to be promotiong their top prospect, shortstop Brendan Rodgers, for this series against the Phillies as insurance. Ultimately, Rodgers may end up competing with Ryan McMahon for the starting second base job.
Meanwhile, the Phillies continue to lead the National League East Division standings. Their lead is now down to just 1.5 games, two in the loss column, over the Atlanta Braves. The Mets are three games back in that loss column and the Washington Nationals are sitting six games out.
The roller coaster offensive attack has been on full display from the Phillies once again over the last two weeks. After scoring at least five runs in seven of their previous nine games, the Phillies scored just six total runs in dropping the final three to the Brew Crew.
The Phillies are 1-3 over the first four games of what was a tough 23-game stretch. It’s a slow start that the club really needs to reverse this weekend, especially considering that the Rockies are the last team until June 7 they will face who currently hold a losing record.
FRIDAY STARTING LINEUPS
- Andrew McCutchen, left field
- Jean Segura, shortstop
- Bryce Harper, right field
- Rhys Hoskins, first base
- J.T. Realmuto, first base
- Cesar Hernandez, second base
- Odubel Herrera, center field
- Maikel Franco, third base
- Cole Irvin, pitcher
- Charlie Blackmon, right field
- Trevor Story, shortstop
- Nolan Arenado, third base
- Mark Reynolds, first base
- Raimel Tapia, left field
- Ian Desmond, center field
- Brendan Rodgers, second base
- Tony Wolters, catcher
- Jon Gray, pitcher
Phillies: Super-utility player Scott Kingery, by far the club’s most valuable bench player, is on a rehab assignement with Double-A Reading and is likely to be activated for this series. Righty relievers David Robertson, Victor Arano, Tommy Hunter and Edubray Ramos all remain out and will not be back this weekend. Ditto for outfielder Roman Quinn and starting pitcher Vince Velasquez.
Rockies: Story is considered day-to-day with a bone bruise on his knee. Lefty reliever Jake McGee is on a minor league rehab assignment but unlikely to return this weekend.
SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
- Cole Irvin: 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 2.11 FIP
- The 25-year-old lefty made his big-league debut last Sunday. He went seven innings, allowing just five hits and one earned run while striking out five and walking one against the Royals in Kansas City.
- A California native, Irvin was the Phillies fifth round pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Oregon. He was 2-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, 36 hits allowed over 36 innings across six starts at Triple-A prior to his promotion. He struck out 23 and walked eight opposing batters.
- Jon Gray: 3-3, 4.25 ERA, 46 hits allowed over 48.2 IP across eight starts with a 51/19 K:BB
- Gray allowed just two hits, walked four, struck out five over six shutout frames in beating the Phillies at Coors Field on April 21. In his most recent outing, Gray allowed eight hits including a pair of homers and three earned runs in a no-decision vs the San Diego Padres at Coors Field last Sunday.
- A 27-year-old righty who was the Rockies first round pick at third overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, Gray has pitched twice before at Citizens Bank Park. He lasted just 4.1 while surrendering seven runs, six earned, in a 10-6 Phillies win on August 12, 2016. Then on June 12 of last season, Gray went six innings, allowing four earned but on just three hits, striking out 10 batters in a 5-4 Phillies victory.
- Gray throws a four-seam fastball with natural sinking action that is rated as an extreme groundball inducer. He also throws an extremely hard slider. He has a curve, changeup and sinker in his repertoire, all of which he uses much less frequently.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES
- Friday night begins “Armed Forces Weekend” at Citizens Bank Park. From Friday through Sunday, players and club personnel will wear camouflage-designed caps, which feature a five-starred emblem to represent the five branches of the U.S. military, and will also wear camo-themed socks.
- The Rockies won five of the seven games played between the two teams during each of the past two seasons. The Phillie lead the all-time series between them by a 109-88 margin.
- Rhys Hoskins has the lone home run off Gray among current Phillies players, but it’s his only hit off the right-hander over seven career at-bats. Andrew McCutchen has enjoyed the most success with a .471 average over 17 at-bats.
- Major League Baseball has announced that Day 1 of the 2019 MLB Draft will take place on Monday, June 3, at MLB Network’s Studio 42 in New Jersey beginning live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 7 p.m. EDT. Prior to the start of the Draft, MLB Network will air a preview show, simulcast on MLB.com, at 6 p.m. EDT. The Phillies have the 14th overall pick in that first round.
FRIDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION
- Friday May 17 at 7:05 pm vs. the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)