Diamondbacks-Rockies Series Preview: A look at Colorado

Marc Serota

This series will certainly be a big test early on, for the already taxed D-backs pitching.

Offense:

  1. CF Charlie Blackmon
  2. LF Carlos Gonzalez
  3. RF Michael Cuddyer
  4. SS Troy Tulowitzki
  5. C Wilin Rosario
  6. 3B Nolan Arenado
  7. 1B Justin Morneau
  8. 2B DJ LeMahie

The Rockies have always been known to have one of the best offense in baseball year after year, but that's in large part due to the park they play in. This year too, the story remains the same; the heart of their order is one that's tough to maneuver through for any starting pitcher, with three big guys you have to worry about.

First, there's Carlos Gonzalez, who is one of the most feared hitters in the National League. The sad thing still today is Gonzales was originally one of us, but was traded away in the Dan Haren deal in 2009. Last year Gonzalez tore up National League pitching in the 110 games he played in, hitting .302 to go along with 26 HRs and 70 RBIs - stats that would be even higher had he played in about 30 to 40 more games. Gonzales was a little quiet in the Rockies opening series going 4-15 overall but managed to get a home run.

Next, you have to look at Michael Cuddyer, who since coming over from the Twins has really broken out in Colorado. Last year, all Cuddyer did was hit, racking up a .331 average. Cuddyer has power too as he also racked up 20 HRs and 84 RBIs for the Rockies - you may also remember him competing in the home run derby at the All-Star Game. Cuddyer didn't cool down from his performance last year, in the Rockies opening series either going 7-17 with a HR and four RBIs.

This last key player to know in the Rockies lineup is perhaps one of the most valuable players in the National League (when he's healthy) in Troy Tulowitzki. As he does with the rest of the National League, it seems everytime this guy faces the Dbacks he absolutely tears them up. Last year he played in 126 games and put up a .312 average to go along with 25 HRs and 82 RBIs. Imagine those numbers had he been healthy all season... And to expand on how well he does against the Dbacks, in the past three years Tulowitzki has hit a combined .292 with 8 HRs and 27 RBIs against the snakes. It seems as if all those RBI and hits come in situations when they matter most for the Rockies.

Along with those big three, the Rockies also throw the likes of Wilin Rosario, Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson at you. Not to be forgotten either, is the newest Rockie who is replacing Todd Helton, former MVP Justin Morneau. So it seems wherever you look in this lineup there isn't one easy out.

In their previous four-game series against the Marlins, the Rockies really didn't find their bats until the last two games. However, some of that is due to having to go up against potential Cy Young Award winner Jose Fernandez in the first game. Additionally, that series was in Miami and now they are returning home to Coors Field for their first home series so expect some offensive fireworks from them in this series.

Pitching

  • Probable Game One Starter: Juan Nicasio RHP (9-9, 5.14 ERA and 119 Ks in 2013)
  • Probable Game Two Starter: Jorge De La Rosa LHP (16-6, 3.49 ERA and 112 Ks in 2013)
  • Probable Game Three Starter: Brett Anderson LHP (1-4, 6.04 ERA and 46 Ks in 2013 with OAK)

Unsurprisingly, the biggest struggle with the Rockies has always been pitching, Coors doing to ERAs what it does to home-run totals. Unadjusted for park numbers suggest they've always had terrific offense but terrible starting pitching to simmer that down. It looks to be the story for them again this year, as they're returning the same staff with the addition of Brett Anderson.

In their first series against the Marlins, the pitching was abysmal. A big reason why they are sitting at 1-3 right now after a four-game series against one of the league's worst teams last year. After four games, they sit at a national league worst 7.09 combined team ERA, giving up 26 runs to the Marlins.

In game one, they are throwing out Juan Nicasio, and when you look at his stats from last year, he was terrible for the Rockies. Nicasio is making his first start, after a season he'd probably like to leave in the rear view mirror. Nicasio had a very good spring training for the Rockies however, pitching in 22 innings while only giving up 7 runs in the process. Reports are that Nicasio's slider is much improved and if that's the case, it could make a big difference.

In the Saturday game the Snakes will get to face the Rockies ace in Jorge De La Rosa. De La Rosa struggled against the Marlins in his first outing of 2014 but very quietly had a very good year for the Rockies in 2013, as a 16-6 record on a losing team is very respectable. When you consider the offense they have, any decent starting pitcher should be able to rack up a bunch of wins by just going out there and throwing quality starts - but in Coors, that's much easier said than done. He also pitched fairly well against the Dbacks last year, compiling a combined 2.38 ERA over 22.2 innings against the Snakes.

Lastly, the Dbacks will have the opportunity to face Brett Anderson on Sunday. The Rockies newest addition is a guy the Rockies really hope can turn his career around this year in Colorado after a very bad 2013 season for Anderson, through both injury and ineffectiveness. At one time Anderson was one of the Dbacks top pitching prospects but like Gonzales was traded away in the Dan Haren deal. Anderson will be making his home debut in a Rockies uniform after a respectable debut against the Marlins on Tuesday, giving up 3 runs over 6 innings.

Series Outlook:

Both teams are coming into this set following opening series that they would like to forget. Expect a lot of offense from both teams over the course of the weekend - after all, we are playing at Coors Field. I have a feeling that the side which takes this series, will simply be whoever pitches less badly!

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