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Series Preview #9: Diamondbacks @ Rockies

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Two of the coldest teams in baseball square off in Colorado, both trying to turn things around. Hopefully it is us who succeeds and not the Rockies.

"Why we fight..."
"Why we fight..."
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks (10-14) @ Colorado Rockies (11-13)

After a hot start to the season, the Rockies are on a 5 game losing streak and have lost 6 of their last 7 games. That's not good. Interestingly, 6 out of those 7 games have been on the road, continuing the Rockies' reputation of being terrible on the road. In 4 of those games they allowed 8 runs or more. That's not good either. They rank 28th in the MLB in run differential, and 28th in runs allowed. That's also bad. The offense has not made up for this poor pitching, ranking 19th in runs scored. What's weird about this is that they are 4th in batting average, so they are getting on base, just not driving guys in.

The D-backs have been having even more struggles, dropping 7 of their last 9. They are now 6 games out of first in the West after being swept by the Dodgers. In 3 of those games, they were shut out and only scored 1 run in 2 others. Their pitching has not done much to pick up the sputtering offense either, with an ERA of 5.54 in the last 7 days. The good news for D-backs fans is that their 2 wins in this 9 game span came against the Rockies, where they scored 21 runs in those 2 games and only allowed 6. I'm hoping that we can replicate that success over the next 3 games, although after seeing the Dodgers series I'm a little worried.

Leading the Rockies in batting average this year has been 2nd baseman DJ LeMahieu, batting a modest .400. Carlos Gonzalez has continued to underperform, only batting .198 with a mere 2 homers and 6 RBIs. The biggest surprise for the Rockies by far this year has been that Troy Tulowitzki still hasn't been injured. You read that correctly. Troy Tulowitzki. Healthy. What is this madness. He has been one of the anchors for the Rockies offense, batting .302 with 10 RBIs and 13 runs scored.

Guess who has been the best hitter for the D-backs this year. I bet you never would have guessed Paul Goldschmidt. You did? You must've looked it up cheater. He's batting .341 on the year, with 6 homers and 22 RBIs. Start the MVP campaigns now. Mark Trumbo is still batting above .280, which I doubt anyone would've guessed at the beginning of the year. Looking at stats from the last 7 days, one thing which stands out to me is AJ Pollock has batted .182 in this stretch. He needs to turn it around.

Bullpen Status

Everyone from the Rockies should be good to go, nobody exceeded 20 pitches in their game Sunday against the Padres. For the D-backs, Enrique Burgos will probably be given a day of rest after throwing 31 pitches against the Dodgers Sunday.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Josh Collmenter RHP (2-3, 2.76 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs Tyler Matzek LHP (2-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.55 WHIP)

Josh Collmenter has been pretty dang good as of late, with an ERA of 1.17 in his last 3 starts. In his last outing, which was against Colorado, he pitched 8 innings allowing 5 hits and an unearned run. In this game, he used his curve a lot more than he normally does, using it 11% of the time as opposed to his normal 7%. If he can continue to throw that pitch effectively, along with his fastball-changeup combo, this will be another great outing. One concerning stat is that in 9 games at Coors Field, he has an ERA of 5.84. I suspect this is due to the fact he is a flyball heavy pitcher.

Matzek has been very consistent all year, and has not allowed more than 2 runs in any start. He also has not pitched more than 6 innings though, so we should see a fair amount of the Rockies bullpen in this one. His primary pitches are the slider and fastball, which he throws about 72% of the time. He also mixes in changeups and curves into his repertoire. His last start, coming against the D-backs, was a 5 inning outing where he allowed 2 runs and got the W. This is a game when the D-backs really need to score some runs, because the next 2 games look like they could be rough ones.

Game 2: Robbie Ray LHP (in AAA Reno: 1-3, 4.01 ERA, 1.66 WHIP) vs Eddie Butler RHP (2-2, 3.81 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)

Robbie Ray is making his first start of the year, filling in for Archie Bradley. He mainly throws his low 90's fastball and low 80's changeup, while mixing in the occasional slider or curve also. He hasn't been great down in Reno, though he certainly hasn't been terrible. In his last start, he went 5 and a third while allowing 2 runs, both of them earned. I would really like to see Ray make a good first impression on the big league club.

Eddie Butler, the Rockies' first round pick back in 2012, has made some decent contributions to the team, though it is nothing to write home about. In his last 2 outings, he has allowed 7 runs in 10 innings, which just isn't going to get it done. His repertoire looks very similar to Robbie Ray's, with an added 2 MPH on every pitch. It'll be interesting to face this guy, as he is someone we could see a lot in the next few years.

Game 3: Rubby de la Rosa RHP (2-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.27 ERA) vs TBD

De La Rosa has been Mr. Inconsistency this year. Take his last start for example. In innings 1,3,4, and 5, he allowed 0 runs. In the 2nd, he allowed 5 runs, including a grand slam. If he doesn't allow any homers, we should be fine. The problem is that allowing homers is something he loves to do, having allowed one in 4 out of 5 of his starts. In the game where he did not allow one, he went 7 innings and allowed one run. That is the de la Rosa we need to see on Wednesday.

X-Factors

The Diamondbacks bullpen is the X-factor in this one. They have been absolutely terrible as of late, with an ERA around 5.50 in the last 7 days. If these guys have a lead when they enter the game, they need to start holding onto it.

Like the last time the D-backs played the Rockies, I'm going the Carlos Gonzalez as the X-factor on the opposing side. He has been terrible this year, batting under .200. If he gets it going, this is a very scary Rockies offense. Another reason I picked him is because last time I did, the D-backs won the series. No superstition over here.

3 Big Questions

  1. Will the 6-9 hitters finally figure out how to hit? No. We've seen a month of baseball, and none of them have shown any ability with the bat. My advice for Chip Hale would be to start having these guys play small ball. That's the only way you'll get any kind of production out of these guys.
  2. How many home runs will the Diamondbacks hit? I think the D-backs are gonna hit 7 home runs this series. Tomas has to hit one eventually, Trumbo is still a little low there, Goldy will do Goldy things. The power bats seem poised to break out, and what better place than Coors to do so.
  3. Can the Rockies offense outweigh their poor pitching? No. The pitching is just so abysmal, nothing can really help them there.
Series Prediction

The D-backs end their struggles and sweep the Rockies.