|Rockies have fighter's chance, but need help|
DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies have a short, simple agenda as they begin a four-game series Monday with the slumping Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rockies have to keep winning and hope for help. Sweeping three games over the weekend at Arizona enabled the Rockies to finish 4-5 on what began as a ruinous road trip. The Rockies are 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West and trail the St. Louis Cardinals by 1 ' games in the chase for the second NL wild-card spot.
Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.76) will start against Zach Eflin (11-7, 4.09).
The Phillies were just swept by the Braves in four games at Atlanta, mathematically ending their chances of winning the NL East or reaching the postseason via the wild-card.
The Phillies (78-77) were 63-48 on Aug. 5, which was the second-best record in the NL, just behind the Chicago Cubs (64-47). But since Aug. 5, the Phillies are 15-29, which is the worst record in the NL, leaving them just a half-game ahead of the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
To be sure, the Phillies have improved greatly from last year when they finished 66-96. But getting swept at Atlanta has forced the Phillies to lower their sights and hope to finish with a winning record. That will require the Phillies to win four of their remaining seven scheduled games.
"Everybody understands that there's a lot of value in having a winning season," first-year Phillies manager Gabe Kapler told reporters Sunday after the series sweep in which the Phillies scored 12 runs in four losses to the Braves. "I don't think that's something that you have to flag or highlight. It's pretty baked into the DNA of these players who want to win."
Eflin is 2-0 0.79 in his past two starts, the last of which was Wednesday in a 4-0 win against the New York Mets when he allowed three hits and three walks in five innings with a season-high tying nine strikeouts. Eflin, who has allowed three or fewer runs in four of his past five starts, has been better at home (8-3, 3.33) than on the road (3-4, 5.07).
The right-handed Eflin has been far more successful against right-handed hitters, holding them to a .236 average and .658 OPS in 290 plate appearance. Lefties are hitting .283 with a .838 OPS against Eflin in 290 plate appearances.
Eflin is 1-1, 7.50 in two starts against the Rockies and 1-0, 3.00 in his one start at Coors Field in 2016.
The Rockies (85-70) finished 44-37 on the road, setting a franchise record for road victories. They are a deceptive 41-33 at Coors Field. Since ending an eight-game home losing streak June 19, the Rockies are 30-13 (.698) and have the best home winning percentage in the NL.
Anderson has made 13 starts, 11 of which the Rockies lost, since his last victory July 4. But correcting some delivery issues has enabled Anderson to end a long struggle. Before his past two outings, he was 0-5, 10.13 in seven starts -- six of which the Rockies lost -- yielding 11 homers in 29 1/3 innings in that stretch along with a .351 average and 1.096 OPS by opposing hitters.
In each of his past two starts, Anderson has allowed two runs in six innings, giving the Rockies, who have little margin for error in their quest to reach October, reason to believe they can count on Anderson in this crucial game and giving Anderson confidence he can deliver another good start.
"I keep telling myself that this is what I've wanted my whole life," Anderson, who is 2-1, 3.13 in four starts against the Phillies told MLB.com. "As it gets closer, you start smelling it and really want to go after it."