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Series Preview # 39 : Dbacks @ Rockies

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Triples and inside the park home runs are exciting; these teams rank high in both!

Ketel Marte triple.
Ketel Marte triple.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Each Rockies-Diamondback series had a profound impact.

May 3- 5. D-backs won the series (2-1). The D-backs went from 5 games above .500 to 6 games above, the best of the season. Because the D-backs had played great teams, this win-loss record raised fan expectations. This series win had impact. D-back fans were cheering loudly!

May 27-30. Rockies swept the series (4-0). The D-backs went from 3 games above .500 to below .500. They slipped from second in the NL West to fourth. Prior to this series, the D-backs were swept by the Padres, and then the D-backs swept the Giants. This series left fans wondering what was happening.

On the other side of the ledger, the Rockies went above .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.

June 18-20. Rockies swept the series (3-0). The D-backs went from 3 games above .500 to exactly .500. They slipped from second in the NL West to fourth. Fans were disappointed.

On the other side of the ledger, the Rockies went from 3 games above .500 to 6 games above .500, the best of the season. Rockies fans had reason to hope for a third consecutive year as a wild-card team. “We expected to be a playoff competitive team.” Jeff Bridich, GM for Rockies

July 5-7. D-backs swept the series (3-0). The D-backs went from 2 games below .500 to above. This sweep kept them in the wild-card race. Fan hopes for buying at the trade deadline were raised.

On the other side of the ledger, the Rockies went from 2 games above .500 to one game below. In just three weeks, Rockies had gone from their season-best record to a losing win-loss record. At least they were still in the wild-card race. “They played some of the best baseball for two months. We looked like the team we should be. This past month has been very challenging and tough baseball to watch. We have to own this. It’s frustrating.” Jeff Bridich, GM for Rockies

“All Aboard!” shouts the wild-card train conductor. Which two NL teams will jump on board as it leaves the station? At 9 games back, the Rockies keep running and they hope the train will slow down for them. At 3 games back, the D-backs are within leaping distance. Will they jump in time?

“The challenge is you can’t lose your way to a playoff spot. We need to start taking control if we are going to be in this with any degree of assuredness.” — Mike Hazen

Comparing Rockies and D-backs.

Triples and inside the park home runs are exciting. As of 6 August, the Rockies ranked first in the Majors with 35 triples, while the D-backs ranked third with 29 triples. This season, two D-backs hit an inside the park home run (Ketel Marte against the Nationals on 4 August, and Blake Swihart against the Pirates on 15 May). Rocky Raimel Tapia hit one against the Phillies on 20 April.

As of 6 August, the run differentials of Rockies and D-backs are different (negative 44 for the Rockies vs positive 71 for the D-backs). The biggest contributor is runs allowed (648 vs 523). It is no great surprise that the D-backs are ahead of the Rockies in the wild-card race.

Who will pitch in this series?

Monday. Peter Lambert (78 ERA+, 6.7 SO/9, 2.6 BB/9) vs Merrill Kelly (99 ERA+, 7.1 SO/9, 2.3 BB/9)

In rookie Peter Lambert’s last start, which was against the Astros, he allowed 9 earned runs. He left the game in the fourth inning with bases loaded and no outs. He faced four batters that inning, and they all crossed home plate safely.

Merrill Kelly left the game with the D-backs tied or ahead in 9 of his 23 starts. The D-backs won 8 of those 9 games! If he leaves the game with the D-backs ahead, then I predict the D-backs will win this game.

Tuesday. Jon Gray (132 ERA+, 9.1 SO/9, 3.5 BB/9) vs Zac Gallen (178 ERA+, 10.7 SO/9, 4.6 BB/9)

This season, Jon Gray pitched three games against the D-backs.

  • May 27 at Coors, 2 earned runs allowed, 5 hits, 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, 5.1 innings. D-backs lost.
  • June 19 at Chase, 1 earned run allowed, 6 hits, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 6.0 innings. D-backs lost.
  • July 6 at Chase, 3 earned runs allowed, 8 hits, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 5.0 innings. D-backs won.

Next season, rookie Zac Gallen may be an All-Star. His ERA+ is 178. Let’s look at a few reasons.

  • His 5.66 hits-per-9-innings would rank first in the NL if he had enough innings to qualify for the Baseball Reference leader board (9 August 2019).
  • His 10.67 strikeouts-per-9-innings would rank 6th in the NL if he had enough innings to qualify for the Baseball Reference leader board (9 August 2019). He would be behind Scherzer, Robbie Ray!, deGrom, Strasburg, and Castillo.
  • “Combined, only 22.7% of pitches swung at against Gallen make it into play. This is exceptionally low - out of 117 pitchers, he would rank 9th.” Sean Testerman, AZ Snake Pit article , 7 August 2019.

Wednesday. Kyle Freeland (74 ERA+, 7.4 SO/9, 3.6 BB/9) vs Robbie Ray (112 ERA+, 11.9 SO/9, 3.9 BB/9)

Last season, Kyle Freeland was fourth in the Cy Young voting. This season is a starkly different story. The D-backs are lucky to face him before he returns to Cy Young form.

Although worse than last season, April’s 4.81 ERA was his best month. His monthly ERAs follow:

  • 10.18 ERA in May (Majors).
  • 8.80 ERA in June (minors).
  • 8.66 ERA in July (Majors).

Robbie Ray pitched against the Dodgers on 9 May. How well did he pitch? He allowed 2 hits in 6 innings — more than good enough to beat the Rockies!