Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola delivers a pitch to the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning on May 20, 2018 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
The Colorado Rockies start a six-game road trip Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The change of scenery might not be a bad thing.
The Rockies, who were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field this past weekend, kick off a three-game set against the Phillies. Philadelphia will send likely All-Star Aaron Nola to the mound to face right-hander Jon Gray.
The Rockies (32-33) enter the series on a four-game losing streak and are below .500 for the first time since they were 6-7 on April 11. Colorado has lost seven straight games at Coors Field and is 11-19 at home this season.
The team is 2-8 in its last 10 games and has allowed 8.5 runs per game during that stretch. Manager Bud Black says the Rockies' pitching needs to improve.
"Pitching is paramount to winning," Black told MLB.com after Sunday's loss. "And these last 10 games or so, we haven't pitched well as a group. The 13-man pitching staff has not pitched well enough to beat the other team. And this series, they outpitched us and outhit us."
Rockies pitchers will face a struggling Phillies offense in the series. The Phillies' .230 team batting average and .692 OPS ranked 14th and 12th, respectively, in the National League as of Monday.
Odubel Herrera, who was the catalyst of the Philadelphia offense through his first 45 games of the season, has cooled off in recent weeks. The center fielder has just 10 hits in his last 68 at-bats (.147 average) and has 19 strikeouts and three walks during that span. Herrera's OPS, which was .989 on May 17, has dropped to .786.
"I think he's going through a rough time. It's been a significant drop in his numbers, his statistics," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters Sunday. "We're all seeing that. We're seeing his rhythm and timing. He's a rhythm and timing hitter ... so when that timing is disturbed and disrupted, you just don't see as clean swings. We know that rhythm and that timing has to come back."
Nola (7-2, 2.35 ERA) doesn't typically need much run support when he's on the mound. The 25-year-old right-hander will be making his 14th start of the season Tuesday, and Nola has yet to pitch less than five innings or give up more than four runs in a 2018 outing.
Nola allowed three runs and four hits in six innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last start but tied a season high with four walks.
Tuesday's start will be the second of Nola's career against the Rockies. He gave up two runs in seven innings at Coors Field on Aug. 6, 2017.
Gray (6-6, 5.66 ERA), meanwhile, was the starter in the Rockies' most recent win. He pitched five innings against the Cincinnati Reds last Wednesday, giving up three runs and seven hits.
Gray is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.254 WHIP in three career starts against the Phillies.
Tuesday's matchup is the first of seven between the Rockies and Phillies this season. Colorado won five of seven in 2017.