Series Preview: Phillies Look to Stay Hot in Mile-High City

Philadelphia Phillies’ Cristopher Sanchez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

After sweeping the World Series Champion Texas Rangers, the Philadelphia Phillies are set to begin their Memorial Day Weekend mountainside getaway as they travel to Colorado for a date with the Rockies.

The Phillies (37-14) stand tall with the best record in baseball having swept seven series on the year. Currently riding a six-game winning streak, the Phillies have averaged 5.43 runs per game while only allowing 3.60 runs per game.

The Rockies (16-33), meanwhile, return to Denver after dropping their series against the Oakland Athletics in an extra-inning affair on Thursday. Currently sitting at the bottom of the pecking order in the National League West, the Rockies own the second-worst record in baseball.

Setting Aside Strength of Schedule

The narrative surrounding the Phillies and the strength of the schedule is an interesting one, but one that frankly carries little actual weight in any capacity. Teams are dealt the schedule they are dealt with. It is their responsibility to navigate that schedule to the best of their ability.

There will be a point this season where the Phillies tank a bit against teams playing good baseball. That is a natural ebb and flow of the season.

Meanwhile, the actual Phillies team is not concerned.

They are in the middle of what is another 162-game marathon grind of a season. The day-to-day process of the game sits at the forefront of their minds. They want to win the game in front of them. More often than not, they have been successful at that outcome. That is what matters to them right now.

The Pitching Matchups: Phillies vs. Rockies

Friday night’s 8:40 PM start features a southpaw showdown between Cristopher Sanchez and Ty Blach.

For the Phillies, Sanchez is coming off a strong start in which he threw seven innings of two-run baseball against the Washington Nationals, striking out eight while walking zero batters.

Earlier on in the season, Sanchez earned the win for the Phillies despite a lackluster display from the bullpen in a 7-6 victory against the Rockies. Sanchez did his part, striking out a season-high 10 batters over six innings of one-run work.

Phillies Aaron nola
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws during the fourth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Three of Sanchez’s previous four starts have been caught by catcher Garrett Stubbs, so odds are high that Friday night could be a scheduled day off for J.T. Realmuto, who is riding a 13-game hitting streak.

Ty Blach, meanwhile, is set to make his fourth start and seventh appearance on the year for the Rockies. Most recently, Blach lasted but three innings against the Giants, allowing six runs on seven hits. A 5.14 ERA on the season, this sets up to be a good matchup for a hot Phillies offense.

Saturday’s 9:10 PM affair will showcase Aaron Nola dueling against Dakota Hudson. Nola, owning a 3.05 ERA on the season, may face a bit of a challenge in a lineup that includes hard-hitters with high lifetime averages against him in Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant.

To Nola’s advantage, he has been red-hot as of late. Two outings ago, he threw a complete game shutout against the Mets. Most recently, he pitched seven innings of two-run baseball against the Nationals.

Dakota Hudson will face off against Nola for the Rockies. A 5.89 ERA on the year, Hudson has pitched six full innings only twice this season in nine starts. He most recently took the loss for the Rockies against the Giants, allowing three runs (two earned) in 4.2 innings. Bryce Harper is 6-for-8 lifetime against Hudson. Expect him to go off on Saturday night.

Ranger Suarez earns the 3:10 PM getaway matchup on Sunday against Cal Quantrill. Looking to earn his tenth win of the season, Suarez has pitched for an inhuman 1.36 ERA on the year. Having just completed a 10-strikeout performance across seven innings against the Rangers, Suarez will look to conclude his bid for back-to-back NL Pitcher of the Month honors with a strong performance on Sunday.

Cal Quantrill, meanwhile, stands as the top starting pitcher the Phillies will face in Colorado. A 3.59 ERA on the season, Quantrill has pitched at least 6.0 innings in his past four consecutive starts. Most recently, he took the no-decision after pitching six innings of two-run baseball against the Athletics, striking out eight.

The Dog Days of Summer Are Here

Memorial Day Weekend marks with it the unofficial start of the summer. In years past, the Phillies have been known as a team that heats up with the summer, and while the forecast for the weekend in Denver sits in the low-mid seventies, the fabled elevation of the Mile-High City should do plenty to elevate the Phillies’ bats.

As a team, the Phillies have hit 60 home runs on the season, the sixth most in the Majors and second in the National League behind the Dodgers. Bryce Harper currently owns 12 of those home runs. Nick Castellanos’ bat is beginning to show sparks. Kyle Schwarber will continue to rake, likely as the calendar flips to June. Oh, and the Phillies are still missing Trea Turner’s bat from the lineup as well.

If there is one thing for certain, it’s that the Phillies have been hitting well so far this season. And it isn’t even hittin’ season yet as Charlie Manuel would say.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)