Monday, May 22, 2017

Rockies come into Philly with best record in NL

Nothing is going right for the Philadelphia Phillies. Having dropped seven straight series, the Phillies have lost 17 of their last 21 contests and have scored more than five runs just once in their last nine games.

Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh was really tough to swallow considering the lone run of the contest was scored by the Pirates after starter Aaron Nola loaded the bases and proceeded to hit David Freeze with a pitch to force home the winning rum.

Things don't get any easier this week as the Colorado Rockies roll into Philadelphia with a 28-17 record, the best mark in the National League.

Pitching Matchups
Monday: Jerad Eickhoff vs. Jeff Hoffman
Tuesday: Zach Efflin vs. German Marquez
Wednesday: Jeremy Hellickson vs. Tyler Chatwood
Thursday: Vince Velasquez vs. Tyler Anderson


I caught up with  Richard Bergstrom Jr. (@rbergstromjr) of Purple Row to get his take on the Rockies early season success.

On what has made the Rockies successful thus far
They have a much more robust bullpen than last year. They're putting up runs on the road and they're getting some situational hitting to go along with that. Keep in mind that they are doing well in 2017 despite a lot of spring training and early season injuries including losing two starting pitchers (Gray and Bettis), two catchers (Murphy and Wolters), their shortstop (Story), an outfielder (Dahl) and [utility player] Desmond. Usually depth has been an issue for the Rockies but they've managed to hold it together well so far.

On Mark Reynolds
Reynolds is an interesting case. Most players learn how to hit the ball, then later in their career, learn how to pull the ball and hit for power. Reynolds basically did the reverse, hitting for power early in his career before deciding last year to adapt his approach to make more contact. It seems this year he's putting both parts together and while he's unlikely to remain this hot, most of the gains should be sustainable. So, I doubt he finishes the year as the best Rockies hitter. That title should go to Nolan Arenado with Charlie Blackmon as a close second. But when you combine his contact, power, eye and his above average defense, he's been a tremendous asset and it's likely he's in for a good pay day after this season.

On the Rockies strategy at the plate
The bottom of the lineup has actually been pretty dangerous as Tony Wolters has done a good job of getting on base, setting things up nicely for Charlie Blackmon to drive runners in. Though the Rockies haven't done much in terms of stolen bases, every lineup regular except for Arenado has at least average speed. With doubles power sprinkled up and down the lineup, if someone gets on, there's a high chance they get driven in.

Quotable
“At some point, players have to understand that you have to earn hitting up at the top of the lineup,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said following Sunday's loss. “You have to earn it. If you want to play, you have to hit. If you want to hit up in the order, you have to hit.”
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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