The Philadelphia Phillies starters struggled through the first 34 games of the season, posting a 5.03 ERA, which was near the bottom of the National League.
This week has been a different story. One good start led to another, then a third, and it carried over to the first game of a weekend series at Colorado. Now it’s up to Ranger Suarez to keep it going when he takes the mound against the Rockies on Saturday night in Denver.
Colorado will send right-hander Ryan Feltner (2-2, 5.08 ERA) to the mount to try to even up the series. Philadelphia won the opener, 6-3, on Friday night.
Suarez is making his season debut against the Rockies after suffering a left elbow strain while pitching for Venezuela in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. He was placed on the 15-day injured list on March 30 and finally is ready to join the Phillies rotation after several rehab starts.
His last outing was with Triple-A Lehigh on Sunday when he allowed one run on four hits over five innings.
“It went well,” Suarez, speaking Spanish, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I felt healthy. I threw all of my pitches, my arm felt good. I’m very excited to be here. Excited to help the team.”
Suarez is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against the Rockies.
Philadelphia has won four straight after dropping six in a row and will try to build on that momentum. The starters have set the tone, with Taijuan Walker allowing three earned runs in six-plus innings Friday night.
“They all want to see each other succeed, and the best way to do that is with friendly competition,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “Seeing the starters go out and pitch the way they’ve done, just seeing them carry that momentum day to day, I think it’s good for us.”
Feltner had three strong starts before struggling against the New York Mets on Sunday. One of those outings came at Philadelphia on April 20 when he threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a game Colorado won 5-0.
Colorado has won his past four starts, and he hopes to make it five straight against Philadelphia. In three career starts, he is 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA facing the Phillies.
Feltner has solidified his spot in the rotation, which suffered another blow when it was revealed Antonio Senzatela will miss several weeks, at least, with a right elbow sprain.
The Rockies have bounced back from an 8-20 start to the season to moved to 16-23, and an improved defense has helped. Colorado committed 21 errors through the first 29 games but have just two since the start of May.
The Rockies also have seen rookie shortstop Ezequiel Tovar get more comfortable at this level. He has been dynamic with the glove and his offense is starting to heat up. He’s raised his batting average from .172 on Arpil 22 to .224.
His defense is a catalyst for the rest of the team.
“When he’s really able to ‘pick’ it like that up the middle, it kind of gives everyone else confidence and it allows us to be free,” Rockies infielder Alan Trejo said.
–Field Level Media