Rockies turn to Jon Gray to shut down Phillies

MLB

The Philadelphia Phillies are trying to get through a tough stretch without key players and even some coaches.

A strong start by right-hander Chase Anderson on Sunday would help them get out of Colorado on a good note ahead of a four-game series in St. Louis.

Anderson (0-2, 4.15 ERA) will face Rockies right-hander Jon Gray (2-1, 2.42) in the rubber match of a three-game series at Coors Field in Denver.

Philadelphia won Saturday night 7-5 behind two home runs by Rhys Hoskins.

Anderson will be making his fourth start of the season and has yet to pitch more than five innings. His best start of the season was his first, when he allowed two runs on two hits over five innings and took a hard-luck loss against the New York Mets on April 6.

Anderson has plenty of experience pitching against Colorado. He is 4-3 with 4.68 ERA in 12 starts against the Rockies, including a 2-2 record with a 6.66 ERA in five career starts in Denver.

The Phillies are in a slump, and part of it has to do with two top pitchers being in COVID-19 protocols. Matt Moore and Jose Alvarado are expected to return when the team is in St. Louis, but Philadelphia could have used them this weekend.

The Phillies also could have used some clutch hitting. In Friday’s 5-4 loss, they were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position but bounced back Saturday, going 2-for-5.

“We haven’t hit particularly well all year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have to have better at-bats with runners in scoring position.”

Philadelphia might find scratching runs across Sunday a little tougher with Gray on the mound. While Coors Field can be intimidating to some pitchers, Gray has thrived at his home park so far this season. In three starts in Denver he is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA.

His best outing came on April 8, when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Arizona. He shut down Houston’s lineup on Tuesday, allowing one run on three hits through 6 2/3 innings.

He has made seven career starts against Philadelphia, going 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA, but he has had more success against the Phillies in Colorado. In four career starts against them at Coors Field, he is 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and has gone at least six innings in each outing.

Gray has evolved as a pitcher since being drafted by Colorado third overall in 2013. He was a power pitcher early in his career and has developed his off-speed stuff to great effect. That has drawn the praise of manager Bud Black, especially his use of the changeup.

“All of the instruction and the willingness by Jon to change has taken hold,” Black said of Gray’s decision to embrace the pitch. “Even in spring training there was an emphasis on the changeup for Jon, and he really bought into it. I’m really proud of Jon being willing to use the pitch in a game and living with the results.”

–Field Level Media

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