Visiting players get a little more skip in their steps when they play in Denver. The thinner air helps the ball travel farther, and sometimes home run totals go up in a series.
That means despite nursing a sore right elbow, Phillies star Bryce Harper will not miss a chance at the plate. Harper had a single as the designated hitter on Monday in Philadelphia’s 4-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies, a role he will retain over the next two games.
Philadelphia will send right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-1, 3.09 ERA) to the mound against left-hander Kyle Freeland (0-2, 10.00) on Tuesday in the middle game of a three-game set.
Gibson is slated to make just his second career start against the Rockies. In his only other appearance vs. Colorado, on Aug. 15, 2020 in Denver, he allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings and got the victory for the Texas Rangers.
Harper, who was the DH in Miami on Sunday, will continue to take advantage of the position that was adopted by the National League this year. The Phillies have an off day on Thursday, so after being the DH for four straight games, Harper could return to the field on Friday at home against the Milwaukee Brewers.
It depends on the elbow issue that cropped up early last week, but Harper doesn’t seem worried.
“As of now it doesn’t affect me at all when I swing,” he said before the Monday game. “When I was throwing, it was sore, it was affecting me a little bit. The last couple days when I was able to DH and get treatment on it, it’s felt pretty good. …
“That’s kind of what we’re doing right now. We’re using the DH days for treatment and recovery of my arm and see where we’re at.”
Harper, who bats left-handed, hasn’t had much success against Freeland, going 3-for-14 (.214) with no homers and two RBIs.
Freeland, the Rockies’ Opening Day starter, has struggled this season, though. On top of his double-digit ERA, batters are hitting .350 against him.
“I’ve been in these situations countless times now and I know what I need to do and how to go out and execute my pitches,” he said. “Sometimes there is not a lot you can do. If I get the ball on the ground and it goes through, that’s unfortunate, but that happens.
“Those things will turn, with time. Luck comes in waves, I feel like. You just have to keep riding it until you are in the clear.”
His manager, Bud Black, was a major league pitcher and sees things through that prism.
“His stuff is fine,” Black said. “I think there have been a couple of at-bats where he’s made the quality pitches and the groundball gets through. That’s baseball.
“But there’s been some other times when he’s got into favorable counts and he hasn’t really located the ball. For Kyle, it comes down to consistently making good pitches.”
Freeland owns a 1-1 record with a 4.50 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies.
–Field Level Media