Writer's Note: I'm back! I was unable to do a series preview for Arizona's series against Cincinnati due to my high school graduation, but I am here and ready to kick off my summer as June's first series comes to play, at the Colorado Rockies.
Arizona's home stand went from promising (winning a series against San Diego) to disappointing (dropping the last three games against the Reds) really fast. Center fielder A.J. Pollock might be the best example of this, going from hitting a walk-off Monday night to ending the week requiring surgery for a fractured right hand. After a stellar performance from Josh Collmenter (three-hit shutout) in the series opener against the Reds, the Diamondbacks dropped three in a row. It was the "Devin Mesoraco Show" Friday night, as his two home runs (including a second inning grand slam) powered a 6-4 win. The offense, as well as A.J. Pollock, were shut down Saturday as the team fell 5-0 and Pollock fractured his right hand. On Sunday, despite starting a team-record five players from the country of Venezuela, it was four home runs given by starter Wade Miley that led to the 4-3 loss.
Following their 3-4 home stand, the Diamondbacks sit at 17th in the majors in runs scored, batting .250 as a team and averaging 3.86 runs/game in 2014. The numbers predictably decrease as the squad goes on the road, as they average 3.5 runs per game outside of Chase Field, batting .234 as a ball club on the road. The Diamondbacks still have the majors' worst team ERA (4.48), particularly with a poor starting pitching staff that has only put together 20 quality starts this season. Their staff actually has more success on the road, posting a 4.07 ERA that is good enough for 18th in the majors. Arizona has dropped three in a row, but is 5-5 in their last ten games, and go on this road trip at 14-14 outside of Chase Field. The club is 23-36 overall, 15 games behind San Francsico for first place in the NL West.
After a promising start to the 2014 season that even saw them tied for first in the NL West at one point, it has been injuries that have undone the Colorado Rockies as of late. The Rockies are coming off of being swept at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, being outscored 18-12 to wrap up a 2-7 road trip. Colorado returns home, where they are 16-7, to kick off a ten game home stand against Arizona, the Dodgers, and Atlanta. At home, they've scored a league-high 6.75 runs per game, batting .344 while at Coors Field. Their pitching, however, has them at 21st in the majors in home ERA (4.08), surrendering a .258 batting average.
The Rockies have been in a tailspin, going 2-8 in their last 10 games, and dropping from a tie to 8.5 games behind San Francisco for the lead in the NL West. They current sit at .500 (28-28), relying heavily on their unbalanced home record to remain in the playoff hunt despite injuries.
On The Mend
Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a fractured right hand. According to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com, the injury will require surgery and take six to eight weeks to recover.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is set to receive another x-ray in two weeks regarding a fractured finger in his right hand, according to MLB.com.
The Diamondbacks selected the contract of left fielder David Peralta from Double-A Mobile Sunday in place of the injured A.J. Pollock; Peralta collected two hits in his major league debut after being inserted into the starting lineup Sunday.
Hole In Center
Even with a season as disappointing as Arizona's has been this season, A.J. Pollock has been a bright spot for the Diamondbacks this season. And yet, with one pitch on Saturday night, the Diamondbacks' bright shining star was knocked out.
Pollock, who was hitting .316/.366/.554 with six home runs, 15 RBIs, and eight stolen bases through his first 52 games this season, became a crucial part of the lineup by creating stability in the leadoff spot and through his solid defensive play in center this season. He was also hitting an astonishing .358 this season, and just in this past home stand put together great performances such as a walk-off home run Monday night against San Diego and a three hit performance Friday night against the Reds. But, on Saturday night, it took one eighth inning hit by pitch by Johnny Cueto to sideline Pollock with a fractured fourth metacarpal in his right hand. The injury will require surgery, and force him to miss six to eight weeks.
So who takes up his production? The obvious choice to take over the leadoff role in the lineup is outfielder Gerardo Parra, who has batted primarily in the two-hole all season. Parra has batted .270/.312/.388 this season, and has found success in the upper half of Arizona's lineup earlier in his career. Otherwise, it is up to either rookies Ender Inciarte and David Peralta or a player in Cody Ross who is still trying to return to form after a horrific injury last season. Inciarte is known much more for his glove than his bat, and nobody knows yet whether manager Kirk Gibson will platoon between Peralta and Ross or select one of the two to take over the remaining outfield spot. In the outfield, I see either Parra sliding over from right field or Inciarte slides over from left with their great range to take over center field. Parra is the only one of the roster with every day center field experience at Chase Field.
Of course, looming over all of this is the return of left fielder Mike Trumbo. When he returns, he should take over his role in left and in the middle of the order, perhaps even forcing Inciarte to take over the role in center field.
Game 1, Tuesday 5:40 PT: RHP Chase Anderson (3-0, 4.02 ERA, 4.92 FIP) vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa (6-2, 3.13 ERA, 4.30 FIP)
Anderson became the first pitcher in franchise history to win his first three starts his last time out, giving up a run on eight hits in five innings on Wednesday night against the Padres his last time out. However, he has been helped in large part by great run support, including an incredible 30 runs of support in his last two starts. While Coors Field is helpful to offense, Anderson will matchup against a hot pitcher in De La Rosa, who has gone 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last seven starts. He was strong in his last start, giving up one run on six hits in six innings against the Phillies.
Game 2, Wednesday, 5:40 PT: RHP Josh Collmenter (4-2, 3.26 ERA, 4.40 FIP) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (4-1, 3.15 ERA, 3.74 FIP)
Collmenter is coming off the best start of his career, facing the minimum through nine innings as a part of a three-hit shutout against the Reds, just the 13th time that the "imperfecto" has occurred in major league history. This is part of a strong roll for the right hander, who has now won his last three starts. Lyles started off 2014 strong, but has surrendered ten earned runs and 11 walks in his last 14.1 innings, giving up two runs over five innings in his last outing. Lyles is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA at home this season.
Game 3, Thursday 5:40 PT: RHP Bronson Arroyo (4-4, 4.41 ERA, 4.26 FIP) vs. RHP Juan Nicasio (4-3, 4.42 ERA, 4.87 FIP)
Arroyo was undone by a second inning grand slam by Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco in his last start, yet still managed to pitch seven innings for the fifth time in his last six starts. Arroyo has been a much better pitcher on the road this season, going 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA outside of Chase Field this season. Nicasio was off to a solid start in his last outing, but gave up four runs in the fifth inning to pick up the loss against Cleveland. He has been largely inconsistent this season, which has made his starts quite difficult to project. However, he has been great at home all year long, going 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA at Coors Field.
Even with their recent stretch of success (and yes, mediocrity is a success with how this team has played this year) at home, it's safe to say that the Diamondbacks are a road team. While the Rockies have been dominant at home, their recent slide could give the Diamondbacks hope for a series win. I think that Jorge De La Rosa has just been too good this season, and that Chase Anderson's luck just might run out for the series opener. However, both Lyles and Nicasio have struggled, and I take Collmenter's recent stretch of success and Arroyo's overall performance of late over them to take two out of three games.