Series Preview: Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies


May 21, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerome Williams (31) in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After winning their first series since April 13-15 by taking two of three in Cincinnati this week, the Colorado Rockies continue on to Philadelphia to face the Phillies.

More from Colorado Rockies News

Well, the Colorado Rockies impressed in Cincinnati this week, taking two of three behind solid enough starting pitching and a few home runs from Nolan Arenado.

Now, the club continues their road trip to Philadelphia, where they will face a struggling Phillies team. The Phils, though, did win two of four from the Rockies in Denver last week, so it’d be nice for the Rockies to exact a little revenge on them at Citizen’s Bank Park this weekend.

Here are the probable pitchers for this week’s three-game set, plus some keys to victory for the Rockies and some information about the Phillies.


Friday, May 29, 5:05 pm
Chad Bettis (1-0, 4.19) vs. Cole Hamels (5-3, 2.98)

Saturday, May 30, 1:05 pm
Jorge De La Rosa (1-2, 6.51) vs. Aaron Harang (4-4, 1.93)

Sunday, May 31, 11:35 am
Jordan Lyles (2-5, 5.10) vs. Jerome Williams (3-4, 5.33)


Keep pitching well, starters!

The starting rotation has been a bit of a revelation the last several games for the Rockies, with deep and effective outings by David Hale, Chris Rusin, Chad Bettis, and Kyle Kendrick (and six innings by Eddie Butler!) all in the last week. The Rockies need that to continue – especially with their best pitcher, Jorge De La Rosa, throwing Saturday – if they want to keep having a shot to win games on the road.

Tulo and CarGo need to wake up

The Rockies have gotten consistent offense (more or less) all season from Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, and Nick Hundley, of all people. Justin Morneau and Corey Dickerson were both doing well enough before landing on the disabled list. Rafael Ynoa and Michael McKenry have shown flashes of effectiveness relative to the jobs they are tasked with doing. But what about Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez? The Rockies two highest paid stars – and, two best players – are going to start playing like it… right?

Neither one is in an awful slump; Tulo’s been middling nearly all season, and CarGo is in a better place than he was, say, two weeks ago, but neither one is dominating, either. A lineup with those two hitting well is completely different than the current one, regardless of how well Arenado is seeing the ball.

Let’s Meet The Phillies

I spoke to Matthew Veasey, the editor of That Ball’s Outta Here, Philadelphia’s FanSided site covering the Phillies.

You can follow Matt on Twitter (@MatthewVeasey), TBOH on Twitter (@FS_TBOH), and certainly connect on their official website.

First off, the Phillies stole a couple games from the Rockies in Denver, and looked better than expected (or, at least better than what I expected). Was that series an example of the Phillies playing above their talent level and surprising you on the road, or can we expect a similar team this weekend in Philadelphia?

Hi Bobby. First, without taking it too personally, which is difficult to take anything when your club is 19-30, the Phils didn’t “steal” any games last week. They split a 4-game set with a 19-26 team, and were very close to taking 2 of 3. It’s hard to tell you what to expect. The Phils hit Denver in the midst of what became a 6-game win streak, their best stretch of the year. Now, they’ve lost 4 straight against tough division rivals in the Nats and Mets.

Cole Hamels pitches the opener, and he has been every bit the ace that his talent and history say he should be. He will be followed on Saturday by Aaron Harang, who has had an all-star caliber season. So those two should at least keep the Phillies in those games. However, the Phils offense has scored 2 or fewer runs in 19 of their 49 games, and are coming off their 5th time being shutout this season already. They have loved home cooking, with a 12-10 record at Citizens Bank Park. I expect them to take this series.

Cole Hamels will start the Friday night game against Chad Bettis. Hamels’ name has – and will continue to be – dropped in trade talks all year. What does your gut tell you about Hamels? Where will he be playing in August?

My gut tells me that some contender is eventually going to fold under the pressure of the pennant race, and realize that prospects are just that – kids that could be a talented bunch of nothing. I regrettably see Cole in the uniform of the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, Angels, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Royals. He is from SoCal, his wife a Midwest gal, so speculation here is that he would accept a deal to places like that.

If he goes nowhere, and fronts the Phillies rotation for the rest of his contract, I’m fine with it. The worst-case scenario is that GM Ruben Amaro, who has lost the faith of the vast majority of the fan base, cuts a bad deal. I have little faith in his ability to come away with the right talent. We shall see.

Aside from Hamels, the Phillies (like the Rockies) ought to be sellers in June and July. Any noteworthy Phillies to keep track of in potential trades as this summer progresses?

The hot name is Ryan Howard, simply because he has indeed been swinging a hot bat. The man known here as “The Big Piece” from his days in the last decade when he was indeed that to their winning lineup came in this year in tremendous physical condition, is fully recovered from the devastating Achilles injury he suffered as the 2011 NLDS ended, and has his power stroke back. The guy who could help any contender who finds they need one is closer Jonathan Papelbon. Despite decreased fastball velocity, the man is mentally tough, and has learned to pitch with that decrease. He just keeps on saving games and getting outs.

Speedy outfielder Ben Revere is available, and would make a nice piece for many teams. Has no power, but has speed to burn, and hits for a high average. He could help a few teams at the top of their lineups. Finally, you have to look at Harang as a definite trade possibility. He keeps showing that he can be a valuable starting pitcher, and would definitely come cheaper than Hamels, both contractually and in the price you’d have to give the Phillies. I really don’t see Utley going. He doesn’t want to leave, has a full no-trade, and has already telegraphed that he wants to finish in a Phillies uniform. But if all his buds are gone: JRoll, Howard, Hamels? Maybe he changes his mind as the losing mounts, and he becomes available as well.

Who needs Cole Hamels when you have Aaron Harang, though? Seriously… did you expect Aaron Harang to contend for a Cy Young Award (!!) after the first 30-40% of the season?

No one expected this level of production, and frankly, no one expects it to continue. And yet it keeps continuing. Just look at his record: the man is a proven, experienced, professional pitcher. He won’t win the Cy Young Award, but he can definitely fill up some innings for any team that is contending and needs an arm. Maybe someone like the Yankees?

Offensively, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco both seem exciting as hell. Are they “exciting young guys” kinda talents, or “cornerstones to turn a franchise around” level prospects?

Neither is a Harper-Trout type “cornerstone” talent. But both could be key longterm pieces for the Phillies. Certainly Franco is the 3rd baseman of the present and future. He is already a tremendous defender at the hot corner, and has shown that he can produce at the plate as well. I expect he’ll be the kind of hitter that goes in streaks: when he’s hot, he’ll put up big numbers for a couple weeks. But he has holes in his swing that could make him prone to some slumps during a season.

Herrera has been a Rule 5 revelation, much in the Shane Victorino mold that the Phillies found a decade ago. Right now, he can’t seem to hit the curveball real well. But he can jump a fastball, has speed to burn, is fearless, and is a really good centerfielder during the first year he has ever played there. Both guys could be starters here for the next few years, at least.

Ruben Amaro, Jr., has said some… um…. Interesting things of late about fans. Judging by his comments, it seems to me they were perhaps taken more out of context/made more scandalous because of Amaro’s poor track record, as opposed to what he actually said and what he was discussing (I thought he was exactly right about having a plan and sticking to it). But, I’m not in Philadelphia covering the team every day: what’s your opinion, and the prevailing Philly opinion, on Amaro’s comments and his tenure in general?

Another situation we’ve covered; pay a quick visit to the website and check out recent content outside of the game recaps (here, here, and here). In a quick nutshell, I’m not a fan. Amaro inherited a team that won the 2008 World Series. His teams: 2009 – lost World Series; 2010 – lost NLCS; 2011 – lost NLDS; 2012 – .500 record and miss playoffs; 2013 – first losing season in over a decade; 2014 – last place season.

Meanwhile, the minor league system deteriorated to the point where there was absolutely no help coming. There have been improvements in that system over the last two years, but he did nothing but have the entire organization crumble on his watch. It’s incredible to me that he still has a job, and I have no faith in his ability to be the one to orchestrate this necessary rebuild.

Finally, one kind of unrelated fan question: every northeast team (Phillies, Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox) seems to have loud fans. I can only speak for myself on that opinion, but I’d bet a good deal of those around baseball may share it on some level. As an expert on one of those teams, which of the four has the most obnoxious fan base? Is there one fan base that is objectively worse than all the others? (please say Boston please say Boston please say Boston.)

Let’s be honest, we can be pretty damned obnoxious, loud, and ornery here in Philly. We won’t take a back seat to New York or Boston in those categories. I think that it is not a mischaracterization to say that Northeast baseball fans are among the most passionate and knowledgeable in the game. I totally respect those fan bases in those two cities because they are so much like our own.

Most obnoxious? I’ll call it a 3-way tie among the cities, but the Yanks and Red Sox fans may be harder to take, simply because they have won so much that there is more of a smugness about them.


More from Rox Pile

Thanks again to Matt for taking the time to talk with us about the Phillies.

You can follow That Ball’s Outta Here on their site and on Twitter the entire three-game series for more on the Phillies.

As for the Rockies…

It remains to be seen if this club can continue their solid pitching efforts in Philadelphia, which – like Cincinnati – is a hitter’s park. If the starters this weekend can keep going deep into games, though, the Rockies stand a chance against a weak club coming off a poor road trip.