The Colorado Rockies just finished a six-game homestand with an even three wins and three losses. The Rockies lost two of three to the Chicago White Sox (who left Denver with an even .500 record) and the Rockies took two of three from the Kansas City Royals (who had lost five in a row, and 13 of their previous 16, before drubbing the Rockies on Sunday).
The Rockies allowed a season high 16 runs to the Royals in Sunday’s game but in the series their bats looked good as they scored 26 runs in the three games. The bad news? The Royals are dead last in the AL in team ERA, have the second fewest quality starts and the worst team batting average against. The Rockies should have scored a ton of runs over the weekend. (In a fun stat by Joe Posnanski: Kyle Davies, who started for the Royals on Saturday night, has the lowest quality start percentage among any starter in baseball history with at least 100 starts.)
Now the Rockies head to Atlanta where the Braves team ERA is over a run and a half better than the Royals. All the hype before the season was surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff but the Braves are ahead of the Phillies in terms of earned runs allowed. The Braves pitching staff leads all of baseball in ERA, batting average against and are second in strikeouts. They have also allowed the fourth fewest home runs and allowed the third fewest total bases. They are good.
[[[Keg Full of Rockies: 2011 All-Star fan vote mistakes]]]
The Rockies will need all the momentum they built up offensively over the past three days to carry over to Hotlanta.
Sitting 6.5 games behind the division leading San Francisco Giants and two games below .500 the Rockies must figure out a way to win five of the seven games before the break to finish above .500 and prove that they can beat fantastic pitching. After leaving Atlanta the Rockies will travel north to Washington DC for three games against the Nationals including finishing the week against Jordan Zimmerman who sports the fifth best ERA in the National League. In fact, in the next week the Rockies face three pitchers who rank in the top five in the NL in ERA.
- Monday: Tommy Hanson who is fourth in the NL with a 2.62 ERA.
- Tuesday: Derek Lowe might be one of the few soft spots the Rockies have this week. Lowe has a 4.16 ERA and a high rate of allowing base runners.
- Wednesday: Jair Jurrjens might be the best pitcher in the NL through the first half of the year. He has a 1.89 ERA which is the lowest in the NL.
- Thursday: Tim Hudson has the fourth worst ERA among Atlanta starters but it is still pretty good at 3.57. (The Rockies miss Braves rookie Brandon Beachy and his 3.23 ERA and over 10 punch outs per nine innings.)
After the Braves the Rockies get to face less impressive pitching but the Nationals are not the pushover they used to be. The Nats are only one game under .500 and have quite a few quality players on their roster. Here are the three pitchers the Rockies will face in the Nation’s Capital.
- Friday: John Lannan has been surprisingly good with a 3.50 ERA and while he doesn’t strike out many (less than five per nine innings) he gets outs with well located pitches.
- Saturday: Jason Marquis faces off against his former team but his ERA north of 4.00 says the Rockies should score some runs.
- Sunday: Jordan Zimmerman will be making his 41st big league start and is proving that the hype around this prospect was well founded. Zimmerman sports a 2.78 ERA and strikes out nearly four batters for every single walk he issues.
That is seven games against teams from the National League East and while two of the starters the Rockies will be facing have an ERA over 4.00 those pitcher’s ERA is barely above 4.00. In contrast; the five pitchers currently in the Rockies rotation only one of them has an ERA under 4.00 and none of them have an ERA under 3.00. The fact that the Rockies immediately sent Greg Reynolds back to the minor leagues after Saturday’s game suggests that Jhoulys Chacin is fine and will make his next scheduled start. If he doesn’t, however, then the Rockies have four pitchers with ERA’s in the fours and if Reynolds makes a start this week his ERA is 5.16.
On paper the matchups this week on the mound are not in the Rockies favor.
In Sunday’s game the Rockies had a scare when Carlos Gonzalez was carted off of the field after making a running catch and smashing into the outfield wall and if he misses games this week the Rockies offense could very well sputter. The good news is that CarGo only suffered a contusion on his wrist (fancy word for “bruise”) and he shouldn’t miss much time, if any. The Rockies cannot afford to have him out of the lineup in a week in which they face some of the best pitching in the NL.
While the Rockies are facing stiff competition the Giants get four against the San Diego Padres and three against the New York Mets, all at home. The Mets might be without Jose Reyes and the Padres stink. The Rockies need to win at least five games this week otherwise they could find themselves double digit games behind the Giants.