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Series Preview: Diamondbacks vs Rockies

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The D-Backs look to extend Colorado’s 8-game losing streak in the final series of the homestand.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks (50-30) vs Colorado Rockies (47-34)

Pop quiz, what do the numbers 62.5% and 101 have in common?

Jeopardy music plays

101 is 62.5% of 162. The Arizona Diamondbacks, a year removed from finishing 69-93, have won 62.5% of their games and are on pace to win 101. Will they win 101 games? Probably not. Do they care? They do not. Keep on winning, boys.

Entering June 21, the Rockies had just defeated the D-Backs, were first in the NL West, and had a record of 47-26. Heading into June 30, the Rockies have been swept by the Giants, are 6 games back of first, and have a record of 47-34. Whoops. What happened? Let’s look at the wRC+ over the last 7 days for anyone who had 10 plate appearances or more (remember, 100 is league average):

115, 77, 56, 1, 1, 0, -5, -17, -27, -79. Average those numbers out and you get... 12. A wRC+ of 12 is not good! For reference, Jeff Mathis has a wRC+ of 26 for the season. So, for the past week, the Rockies could have played with an all-Jeff Mathis lineup and performed just as well on offense.

If your entire offense is going to hit like Jeff Mathis, you’d better have some darned good pitching. The Rockies have given up a little over 8 runs per game during their losing streak. Time for some more context: Russ Ortiz had an ERA of 6.89 in 2005. So, for the past week, the Rockies could have had an all-Russ Ortiz starting rotation and actually performed a little bit better than they did. A lineup of Jeff Mathis and rotation of Russ Ortiz won’t win very many games.

However, the Rockies are not an awful team. As the first 73 games of their season showed, Colorado can be a scary. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are awesome, Mark Reynolds is suddenly the Mark Reynolds we always wanted, and there aren’t any “easy outs” in the lineup. Don’t sleep on the Rockies, even if they have been crash landing for the past 8 games. They are still on track to win 94 games, and lead the Cubs by 6 games for the second wild card spot.

Injury Report

Outfielders A.J. Pollock and Yasmany Tomas are expected to rejoin the D-Backs soon; both are currently rehabbing down in Reno. Shortstop Nick Ahmed will be out 6-8 weeks with a fracture in his hand.

Starting pitcher Tyler Anderson was placed on the DL on Tuesday with a knee injury. The struggling Carlos Gonzalez and the former Diamondback Gerardo Parra will be out of action for the series, both are on the 10-day DL. Finally, second baseman DJ LeMahieu is day-to-day with a groin injury.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Robbie Ray LHP (8-3, 2.87 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) vs Jon Gray RHP (0-0, 4.38 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Robbie Ray has been awesome, let’s start with that. He’s got a 1.29 ERA over his last 7 starts. However... I don’t know if Ray has quite crossed over from “Potential Ace” to “Ace” just yet. Can you really call someone an ace after a month and a half of dominance? Ray hasn’t shown enough consistency for me to put him in that upper echelon of pitchers with Scherzer, Kershaw, Sale, etc. Still, Ray’s one heck of a young pitcher, and watching him blossom has been a joy.

The Rockies opening day starter will be making his first appearance since April 13 after battling a foot injury for the past two and a half months. In 2016, Gray’s first full season, the 25-year-old pitched his way to an ERA+ of 118. He attacks hitters with a powerful 96 MPH fastball and 91 MPH slider. Expect to see a lot of the #3 overall pick of the 2013 draft for years to come, as one of the first in this new wave of “homegrown” Colorado pitchers.

Advantage: D-Backs

Game 2: Zack Greinke RHP (9-4, 3.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) vs Tyler Chatwood RHP (6-8, 4.32 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

With all the Robbie Ray and Zack Godley talk, Zack Greinke’s bounce-back season is flying under the radar. He is top-12 for ERA, K/9, and BB/9, and has put up good-to-excellent outings in 13 of his 16 starts. Having Greinke and Ray at the top of the rotation for the next few years is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch

Tyler Chatwood is boring. You will see many fastballs, sinkers, and sliders, all of which are within a few MPH of each other. He pitches to contact, gets a lot of ground balls, and hopes that his pitches get hit to a defender. This strategy has seen mixed results throughout his career, with 2017 being one of his stronger seasons thus far. Chatwood’s only start against the D-Backs this year was a 1-run, 2-hit, 7-inning gem. I expect far better output from Arizona on Saturday.

Advantage: D-Backs

Game 3: Taijuan Walker RHP (6-3, 3.50 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) vs German Marquez RHP (5-4, 4.38 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

After having 10 bone spurs removed from his foot in the off-season and developing a slider in the spring, Walker is putting together the best season of his career. Adding the slider to go along with the fastball and splitter seems to be preventing hitters from sitting on his fastball. In 2016, opposing hitters had a batting average of .276 and a slugging percentage of .493 against the heater. This year, the average is down to .235 while the slugging percentage has dropped significantly to .340.

When I looked up a video to watch of German Marquez pitching, the first one which popped up read: “German Marquez annihilated by Nationals...” I can confirm that yes, Marquez was definitely annihilated in that game, allowing 8 runs in 4 innings. That April 25th game was both his first and worst game of the 2017 season. Since then, Marquez has not exactly dazzled, but has been serviceable in the Colorado rotation. An ERA which hovers between 4 and 4.50 is just fine when half your games are pitched in Coors Field. Still, I like Walker over Marquez in this match-up.

Advantage: D-Backs

Prediction

This is a tough one to predict; both teams are unstoppable when they get on a roll. I’m a bit afraid of the Rockies taking out their frustration on the D-Backs with an offensive explosion. Still, the pitching matchups swing heavily in Arizona’s favor... Hmm...

There you have it. D-Backs sweep.

Poll

How many games do the D-Backs win against Colorado?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    1
    (4 votes)
  • 58%
    2
    (23 votes)
  • 28%
    3
    (11 votes)
39 votes total Vote Now