Troy Tulowitzki remains out with an injury as the Phillies head to Colorado to face the Rockies. (Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso)
If there is going to be a huge comeback from the Phillies, it has to begin now. In the short term, the Phillies drew a good opponent.
The Colorado Rockies are in fourth place in the NL West with a 33-52 record, one of only a handful of teams below the Phillies.
While the rest of the month featured teams with positive records, the Phillies don't have a choice right now. They need to win games and series. Simple as that.
The Rockies are without star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. But they do have All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in the lineup as a dangerous threat. Additionally, Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton are recognizable names that pack a punch as well.
In a recent series with the Phillies, players like Tyler Colvin, Chris Nelson and Wilin Rosario had solid success as well. So, this Rockies lineup is no walk in the park for pitchers, especially in the bandbox that is Coors Field. But the Rockies have struggled with pitching, shuffling their rotation several times.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series.
In the opener, Cliff Lee (1-5, 3.98 ERA) goes against Christian Freidrich (4-6, 5.98 ERA) - Lee finally picked up his first win of the season against the Mets on July 4. It was the only win on the Phillies nine-game stretch against division opponents. In his career against the Rockies (one start), Lee is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
Freidrich continued to struggle in his last start, allowing six runs over 4 1/3 innings to the Cardinals on July 5. Since start the season 4-1, Freidrich has lost five of his last six starts. He has never faced the Phillies in his career.
In the middle game, Vance Worley (4-5, 3.54 ERA) faces Jeremy Guthrie (3-8, 6.05 ERA) - Worley picked up a no-decision in his last start, allowing three runs over six innings. In his career against the Rockies (two games, one start), Worley is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA.
Guthrie took a no-decision in his last start, allowing two runs over six innings to the Nationals. This is just Guthrie's third start since returning from the bullpen, where he pitched in long relief since June 20. Guthrie's last win came on May 31. In his career against the Phillies (two games, one start), Guthrie is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA.
In the finale, Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.20 ERA) gets the start against Drew Pomeranz (1-3, 3.06 ERA) - Aside from his perfect inning in the All-Star Game, Hamels last pitched on July 5. He was in line for the win after seven innings allowing four runs before Jonathan Papelbon blew the save and took the loss in a two-run ninth inning for the Mets. Hamels last win came on June 19. It was against the Rockies. In his career against the Rockies (four starts), Hamels is 2-1 with a 4.21 ERA.
Pomeranz picked up his first win of the season in his last start allowing just one hit in 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Nationals. Pomeranz has never made an appearance against the Phillies in his career.
July 13 - Phillies 6, Rockies 2
July 14 - Phillies 3, Rockies 5
July 15 - Phillies 4, Rockies 1
The Rockies are a perfect team for the Phillies to open their second half against. With the Phillies needing wins to build some confidence, they have a great chance at three of them. In fact, they should get three of them.
That being said, the starters will have to do quite a bit to ensure that. This is still the same team as before the All-Star Break, so the bullpen can not be completely trusted until the results warrant such a thing.
Still, there's no reason the Phillies don't take two of three with pitchers like Lee and Hamels on the mound. Hamels was denied a win because of the bullpen in his final first-half start. Lee finally got his first, which could finally get him into a similar groove as last season.
The time is now for the Phillies, and they have a great chance to get off to a good start in Colorado.