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Series Preview #42: Diamondbacks @ Rockies

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The Diamondbacks have a shot to return to an even record when they head out to Coors to take on the Rockies.

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Arizona Diamondbacks (62-66) vs Colorado Rockies (52-76)

Well, that week was terrible. They followed being swept by the Cardinals with a series loss to the worst team in the AL, to go 1-6 on the homestand. The Diamondbacks very unkindly reminded us that they still have a ways to go before being a playoff team. Speaking of the playoffs, the Diamondbacks are completely out of that race, barring a 20-game win streak, 10 games back of LA in the West and 11 games back of a wild card spot. It was nice to be relevant in mid-August, much longer than I was expecting.

The Rockies are not good at all. They are locked in an intense battle with 5 other teams for the #1 overall pick, and they have a pretty good chance of winning that battle. The pitching has been atrocious, having allowed the most runs in the Majors, 678. That's 5.3 runs per game, which makes it kinda tough to win games. Colorado has had a solid offense, ranking second in the NL in runs scored per game. Still, it hasn't been nearly enough to overcome the pitching. The offense has been led by Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Troy Tulowitzki oh yeah he's gone. After a rough start, Carlos Gonzalez has been coming around too, with 10 homers in August. I also wouldn't sleep on catcher Nick Hundley, who has a OPS of .799 in August. New acquisition Jose Reyes has struggled in Colorado, with an OBP under .300 since being traded to the Rockies.

Good News

  • The Rockies have only one guy batting over .275 in August with more than 40 plate appearances.
  • A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, and Ender Inciarte all have an OPS above .790, most notably Pollock all the way up at .967. They are doing a great job making up for Tomas's vanishing act.

Bad News

  • Since the all-star break, Yasmany Tomas has been swinging at everything, with just TWO walks in 106 plate appearances. This gives him a walk rate of a mere 2%. His K rate is on the other extreme, all the way up at 36%! This has resulted in a triple slash of .231/.241/.346 in the second half. Joining him in the offensive dead weight category is Nick Ahmed, with a triple slash of .164/.188/.254. Everyone except for CO and Tomas has a batting average higher than Nick's slugging percentage.
  • Paul Goldschmidt has disappeared in the last two weeks, with a batting average of .212. He has somewhat redeemed himself with his .339 OBP and his 2 monster home runs last week, but he needs to return to regular Paul and start driving the ball more. I'm confident he will.

Injury Report

Phil Gosselin is the only guy who could be returning from injury for Arizona, and by the time this article is posted you will probably have already heard whether or not he is on the active roster with all the 40-man roster moves going on for September call-ups.

Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau could return during this series for Colorado, after dealing with concussion symptoms for almost the entire season. Outside of that, the Rockies have nobody on their long list of injuries who could come back and make any sort of impact.

Bullpen Status

Now that September is here and every team can add another 15 guys to their active roster, this section is kinda irrelevant since bullpens will always be stocked with fresh arms.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Robbie Ray LHP (3-10, 3.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) vs Chad Bettis RHP (6-4, 4.69 ERA, 1.40 WHIP)

After Allen Webster took the start on Sunday where Ray was supposed to go, Robbie goes on an extra day of rest Monday. I'm sure he wanted all the time he could get to take his mind off his last outing, where he went 3 innings and gave up 6 runs on 5 hits and 5 (wow) walks. Robbie has been losing steam as the season goes on, with a 6.25 ERA in his last 7 starts. This extra day of rest could be just what he needed in his first full big league season.

Chad Bettis is the first of three starting pitchers Arizona faces during this series who I have never heard of in my life. In his first year as a full-time starter, Bettis is actually having the best (or maybe least bad) season of his career, after a 5.64 ERA in 2013 and a 9.12 ERA in 2014. In his first start after an elbow injury that took him out for a month, Bettis was solid, going 5 innings and allowing a run. He has actually pitched better than his ERA would indicate, a 10-run 2.1 inning outing is definitely inflating that number.

Game 2: Patrick Corbin LHP (3-3, 3.78 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) vs Yohan Flande LHP (3-1, 4.09 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)

Corbin is still making solid progress in his return from TJ surgery, his last outing going 6 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 7 Ks. It doesn't really matter for this year that he isn't going deep into games, all I want to see is that he hasn't lost anything while he was gone (he has not) and that he doesn't get injured. If he can get through the season performing like he has, I'd call this season a success for him.

Flande is the best of the pitchers Arizona will face this series, which is fantastic news for Diamondbacks fans. He began the year in the bullpen, and in late-July slid into a starting role. He has been fine in that role, a 4.13 ERA in 6 starts. Homers have been a pretty big problem for Flande, with 9 homers allowed in his starts. Despite this high home run rate, Flande has an extremely high ground-ball rate too, 63% of balls in play on the ground. He throws primarily sinkers, something you will see a lot with Rockies pitchers.

Game 3: Rubby de la Rosa RHP (11-6, 4.46 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs Kyle Kendrick RHP (4-12, 6.43 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)

Coin Flip Website. If it's heads he'll be good, tails he'll be bad. That'll give you way better analysis than I ever could on Rubby. I flipped a Yugoslavian coin. I don't know if the side that came up was heads or tails. Seems fitting for Rubby.

The one Rockies starter I do know of has been absolutely terrible. Kendrick has always just been an okay pitcher, never that good, but what the heck man. A 6.43 ERA???? This is the worst number of all pitchers with more than 110 innings. Of course, knowing the inconsistency of the D-Backs, he'll probably shut them out.

Game 4: A Pitcher vs Jon Gray RHP (0-0, 6.00 ERA, 1.52 WHIP in 5 starts)

The D-Backs currently have not announced a pitcher for Thursday's game, which would normally be where Hellickson pitches. He is out, so you can pretty much take your pick between a whole bunch of guys including Randall Delgado, A.J. Schugel, Josh Collmenter, or maybe one of the September call-ups such as... Archie Bradley?

I was about to write that Jon Gray is really bad and that the Diamondbacks had better be able to hit against him based on that ERA and WHIP, but oh look he was the #3 overall pick in 2013. He's made 2 okay starts and 3 bad ones, so hopefully we get one of the bad ones. Wanna learn more about him? Then go read this fangraphs article written when he was called up.

X-Factors

The D-Backs offense is the X-Factor in this one. If they are clicking against one of the worst, if not the worst, rotations in baseball, lots of runs will be scored. Not even Arizona's pitchers should be able to screw this one up as long as the offense works.

Series Prediction

I don't think I've predicted this all year, but D-Backs sweep the Rockies in this 4 game set.