Phillies

Similar starting pitchers open a fun Phillies series at Coors Field

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Similar starting pitchers open a fun Phillies series at Coors Field

Remember how terribly the Phillies' four-game series in Colorado went last season? This should be a different story.

Last September, the Phils were swept at Coors Field and outscored 39-7 by a playoff-bound Rockies team. That sweep ensured the Phils would finish with a losing record.

Expectations were high for the 2019 Rockies but they've started off on the wrong foot, going 6-12 in their first six series. They began 2-0, then lost 12 of 13 before winning three in a row.

The 11-6 Phillies have gone 4-1-1 in their six series, five of which have come against NL East teams.

When: 8:40 p.m. — Pregame Live starts at 8

Where: NBC Sports Philadelphia+ and streaming live on the MyTeams app and NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com 

Pitching matchup: Zach Eflin (2-1, 3.94) vs. Kyle Freeland (1-3, 5.40)

Facing Freeland

The Phillies will see lefty Kyle Freeland, who last year had maybe the best season ever for a Rockies starting pitcher, going 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 33 starts and an astonishing 10-2 with a 2.40 ERA at Coors Field. The narrative with Freeland is that because he's a Denver native, he's used to pitching at altitude.

Last year's fourth-place Cy Young finisher is off to a rough start. After a gem on opening day, he's allowed 13 runs and 29 baserunners in 14⅔ innings, failing to make it past the fifth inning.

There was a school of thought that Freeland was bound for regression this season because of his home park, the extended book the league now has on him, and his lack of consistent swing-and-miss stuff.

With Freeland, you will see mostly sinkers, cutters and four-seam fastballs. Those three pitches have accounted for more than 85% of his repertoire this season. He's a lanky, 6-foot-4 lefty with a three-quarters delivery who has good movement.

The cutter is the pitch that led him to so much success a season ago. He used it to jam right-handed hitters or backdoor them on the outside corner for strike three. He also used it against lefties, which you don't see all the time because a cutter in the strike zone against a same-handed hitter tends to move directly toward the barrel of the bat. 

Freeland's opponents have still struggled with the cutter this season but have teed off on his fastball, hitting .348 with three homers, three doubles and a triple.

Who's in, who's out?

Jean Segura and Odubel Herrera exited the Phillies' wins Tuesday and Wednesday with hamstring injuries. Segura is being considered day to day, while Herrera was taken out as a precautionary measure. Gabe Kapler described Herrera's injury as a hamstring cramp. Herrera was his typical smiley self in the Phillies' clubhouse after Wednesday's game.

The issue is, though, that the Phillies can't afford to carry two position players who both need to sit for a few days. It would leave them with a three-man bench in a four-game series that you know will feature a good number of pinch-hitters and/or early exits for pitchers.

We'll see this afternoon what the Phillies decide to do, whether one or both of Segura and Herrera are ready to return or if they have to send one to the IL to free up a spot for another position player.

Which Eflin shows?

Zach Eflin lived on the corners in his first two starts against the Nationals and Twins before a surprising stumble last Saturday in Miami. 

Eflin's outing showed that even the worst of teams can hit a fastball that catches too much plate or a breaking ball that hangs. 

It will be difficult to judge Eflin too strongly one way or another tonight because of what Coors Field does to most pitchers. He's started there twice, allowing two runs in six innings as a rookie in 2016 and five runs in 2⅔ innings last September.

The Rockies' lineup isn't currently as formidable as it was last season. Daniel Murphy, a big free-agent signing with batting title potential in that ballpark, broke his finger two games into the season and has been out since. Starting outfielder David Dahl was activated from the IL today.

The three big threats in Colorado's lineup are Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon. All three are off to relatively slow Aprils, but Arenado and Story are coming on. The Rockies are 0-5 at home but were eager to get back to Coors Field after spending most of their month on the road.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Opinions on Bryce Harper after a year in Phillies pinstripes

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Phillies Talk podcast: Opinions on Bryce Harper after a year in Phillies pinstripes

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman got together for a lil' Phillies Talk on the one-year anniversary of the Bryce Harper signing. Aside from their opinions and big-picture takeaways from Harper's first year with the Phillies, the guys discussed Zack Wheeler's imminent debut, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen.

• Zack Wheeler debuts Saturday — what are we looking for?

• Some Phillies hitters thrilled to not have to face Wheeler anymore.

• Why so much Jean Segura at 3B early in camp?

• Defensive upgrades in the infield.

• Where is Andrew McCutchen? How does the knee look?

• Recalling the buzz in Phillies camp when Harper signed.

• The overlooked aspect of Harper's first season in Philly.

• How many Phillies records can Harper set?

• Honesty from J.T. Realmuto about Phillies pitchers, coaching changes and disrespect from the outside.

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Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

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A way-too-early look at how high Bryce Harper could climb on Phillies all-time leaderboards

A way-too-early look at how high Bryce Harper could climb on Phillies all-time leaderboards

Can you believe it’s been a year since the Phillies signed Bryce Harper?

In most years, the final day of February will be the anniversary. Not 2020 because it’s a leap year, but here we are on Feb. 28, some 365 days after the afternoon splash that left Phillies fans delirious for months. 

Harper had a strong first year with the Phils. An overlooked component of it was his durability. He played in 157 games, the second most of his career. The Phillies will need him to be on the field that much to reach their ultimate destination. Perhaps at some point during his contract the rest of the roster will be good enough to contend even if he’s at less than 100%, but that time isn’t now.

Days left

Today marks 365 days down and 4,268 to go in Harper’s Phillies contract.

That 4,268 figure could be off by a few days but you get the point. It assumes the 2031 World Series ends on Halloween.

Dingers

Harper enters 2020 with 219 career home runs — averages of 27 per season and 33 per 162 games.

If he averages just over 35 home runs for the next eight seasons, he would hit his 500th home run toward the end of the 2027 season. Factoring in future time missed to injury and the fact that so far, he’s exceeded 35 only in his 2015 MVP season, 2028 is more realistic. Maybe even 2029.

Schmidt more than safe

Harper could hit 35 homers every year for all 13 years with the Phillies and still be 93 shy of Mike Schmidt.

Harper does have a decent chance to reach second on the Phillies’ all-time list. Ryan Howard occupies that spot with 382. Harper would need to average 29 longballs a year over the next dozen to surpass The Big Piece.

Schmidt had 11 seasons of 35+ home runs. No other Phillie had five. Harper is a safe bet to do so. 

Howard had four, Chuck Klein three, and Greg Luzinski and Jim Thome had two. 

The only other 35-homer seasons in Phillies history belong to Harper, Jayson Werth (2009), Pat Burrell (2002), Dick Allen (1966) and Cy Williams (1923).

Schmidt averaged 68 extra-base hits and 102 walks per 162 games in his career. 

Harper has averaged 69 extra-base hits and 102 walks per 162 games in his.

Which Phillies records could Harper set?

This should show how difficult it is to set franchise records when you don’t begin your career with that franchise. The longevity of Schmidt (18 seasons) and Jimmy Rollins (15) will make it difficult for Harper to reach higher than second in several categories. 

Harper would need to average just over 117 walks per season to break Schmidt’s mark. Highly unlikely.

Doubles? Harper hit 36 in 2019. He would need to average 37 a year over the next 12 to break Jimmy Rollins’ mark of 479. 

He’d need 180 hits per season to surpass Rollins. 

Sifting through careers, the best chance at a big offensive Phillies record for Harper would be seasons with 100+ RBI. He had 114 last year. Schmidt had the most seasons in Phillies history of at least 100 RBI with nine. Can Harper do it nine more times in 12 years?

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