Series Preview: Rocky Start continues against Colorado

MLB: MAR 07 Spring Training – Phillies at Yankees
TAMPA, FL – MARCH 07: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) delivers a pitch during the MLB Spring Training game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees on March 7, 2021 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

The Phillies wrapped up their series against the Milwaukee Brewers dropping 2 of 3. After coming from behind to win the first game on Friday night, the Phillies blew the lead on Saturday and the Brewers evened the series 1-1. The rubber match came down to Sunday Night Baseball and boy was it something to watch. Umpire Angel Hernandez proved once again that he is not a qualified professional and he was brutal all night long. The Phillies would lose the game Sunday night after former friend Andrew McCutchen drove in the only run of the game in the ninth. Although the Phillies didn’t score, there were still fireworks on display Sunday.

Looking Ahead

On Monday the Phillies will welcome the Colorado Rockies into town for 4 games. The Phillies went 1-2 in their series in Colorado just last week and this will be the last time they play the Rockies this regular season. The Rockies are coming into the series 10-5 and have turned heads to start the season. The Phillies are quickly falling behind the first-place Mets and while it still may be early, they need to wake up before it is too late.

Players to Watch

The Starting Rotation

The Phillies starters have not been consistent or impressive to start the 2022 season. Despite some good moments and stand-alone good outings, the collective unit has not been good enough. For an offense that is struggling, the starting rotation needs to pick up their offense. Read below about the starting pitching matchups for this 4 game series.

CJ Cron

Rockies’ first basemen CJ Cron is tied with Byron Buxton of the Twins and Ozzie Albies of the Braves with 6 home runs apiece for the league lead. His hot bat has been consistent on the road and at home for Colorado just fifteen games into the young season. The veteran right-hander has a powerful stroke and his swing will play well at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will need to neutralize his bat in an effort to win just their second series of the season.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

Kyle Gibson (1-1, 3.57 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland (0-2, 7.71 ERA)

Kyle Gibson has been the best Phillies starter this season. While that accomplishment isn’t necessarily the hardest goal to reach thus far, Gibson has been quality for the Phils early in 2022. He pitches to contact and will give up a couple of hits and runs, but he will go deep into games and keep the Phillies in the game. Run support early and often is really important for any starting pitcher but it can really help Gibson due to his style of play.

Kyle Freeland will be making his fourth start this season and it will be his second straight against the Phillies. He had his best outing of the season against the Phils in Colorado allowing just two runs through five innings of work. Freeland has been hit around quite a bit as he has given up 20 hits in 14 innings of work. The Phillies should attack at the plate tonight but must control themselves and strike at the right pitches.

Game 2:

Zach Eflin (0-1, 5.27 ERA) vs German Marquez (0-0, 4.67)

Zach Eflin has been decent in his starts in 2022 but he has left the team longing for more. Eflin is a great pitcher when he has hit control on point and he must be on against this hot Rockie offense. Zach allowed 4 runs on 9 hits against Colorado in his last start. He has to be better if the Phillies are going to win his start.

German Marquez is clearly the ace of this Colorado pitching staff and is a tough test for most offenses. The Phillies hit German well last Wednesday and went on to win the game. To come out with a win again the Phillies need to take the same approach as they did last time around against Marquez. Strong discipline against his off-speed pitches and forcing him to use his fastball will give the Phillies’ hitters the best chance of repeating their previous performance.

Game 3:

Ranger Suarez (1-0, 4.38 ERA) vs TBD

Faced with a bases-loaded jam and nobody out in the first inning against Milwaukee could have ended Ranger Suarez’s night before it even began. The young Phillies starter showed grit and perseverance as he managed to get out of the inning without allowing a single run. Very reminiscent of his 2021 outings, Ranger shut the door when the team needed it the most. He is continuing to build after a short spring training and his outing Friday against Milwaukee was his best thus far. The Rockies have a powerful right-handed duo in Kris Bryant and CJ Cron that will provide a good test for Ranger as he continues to return to form.

Game 4:

Zack Wheeler (0-3, 8.53 ERA)

As Aaron Rodgers once said R-E-L-A-X. Zack Wheeler could have easily won the Cy Young award in 2021 and pitched the most innings in baseball. He needs time to dial it back up after experiencing some soreness in his throwing arm this off-season. Wheeler looked really good against the Brewers on Saturday until he started to fall off towards the end of his start. The takeaway should be positive from his last outing as he continues to look like himself. It is still early and do not lose faith in the Phillies’ ace. I expect Wheeler to take a step forward once again on Thursday afternoon against the Rockies.

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

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