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Series Preview #39: Colorado Rockies @ Houston Astros

The Astros (73-46, 1st in AL West) play a quick two games against the Rockies (63-55, 3rd in NL West) before heading back out on the road

Colorado Rockies v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Recency Bias


The Rockies come into town after taking 3 in a row to end a four game set against the Dodgers. That would be their first series win since sweeping the A’s to close out July, losing three straight to NL Central teams since. While they have had outbursts in those games, Colorado has also had trouble stringing consistent hits, having scored 4 or fewer runs in 10 of their last 14 games. Their hottest hitter this past week has easily been 1B Ryan McMahon, who popped off in 16 ABs with 2 home runs, a .375/.500/.813 slash line, and 3 walks in 7 games. After that, Chris Iannetta, Nolan Arenado, and Carlos González are all sporting OPS’s in the .825 to .828 range in the last two series, giving the Rockies steady production in their lineup with extra-base power. Unfortunately, Arenado would exit Friday’s game early with shoulder soreness, but is expected back any day now. David Dahl and Trevor Story both had steady weeks in the last two series, with Story spanking 4 doubles against the Dodgers and Pittsburgh. DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon have both been quiet on the power front, but have been getting on base at decent .300 or so clips. Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra have both been cold this week to go with matching pedestrian seasons, though Desmond does have a shot at 30 home runs this year.

The Rockies’ bullpen has had a little bit of a rough week with only 3 of their relievers escaping without giving up at least 2 runs. Big off-season pickup Wade Davis was one of the pitchers on the unfortunate side of that, surrendering 3 runs to the Dodges thanks to 2 home runs in 0.1 IP. Davis has had a rough August, surrendering 8 total runs in just 3.1 IP this month. Adam Ottovino has been playing the setup role for Colorado and has been good on the year, though he would also stumble against the Dodgers, giving up a run to them as well as an unearned one to the Pirates. Suenghwan Oh and Scott Oberg are the only other two relievers to join Ottovino with an ERA under 4.50, sporting 2.59 and 3.12 tallies respectively. Harrison Musgrave and Bryan Shaw are the two relievers currently in the pen to not allow a run this week, though neither has been particularly spectacular in 2018. The scoreless week adds to a scoreless August for Shaw, who has otherwise been awful this year along with Jake McGee. Chris Rusin will return to the pen for Colorado after a DL stint, but the biggest note there is that he’s replacing Yency Almonte, who had been looking good in 7 games this season.

The NL West is still very much up for grabs so the Rockies will be motivated to try and close the one game gap they have with Arizona.


As for Houston, they’ve had a humbling week thanks to a sputtering offense and a rash of injuries. After winning a couple of late inning squeekers against the Giants, the Astros would get swept at home by the Mariners including a gut-punch finale to the 4th game. The only healthy player performing at an elite level this week has been Tyler White, who is slashing .286/.348/.714 with a couple of long balls including a game winner against the Giants. Marwin would also smash a game winning shot in one of the games against the giants, but that would be it for home runs for the Astros. Tony Kemp would also have a solid week and would see his importance in the lineup increase due to all the injuries. Beyond that, Bregman was the most consistent hitter behind Marwin with a .407 OBP, but only has a single double for extra-base hits. There has been a lot of slumping in the lineup with Gurriel, Stassi, and Reddick all having sub-par weeks. Gattis is struggling mightily as well, having gone hit-less since returning to his more accustomed DH slot after the NL road trip. Correa has not been able to solidly connect since his return from the DL except for an excuse-me check-swing RBI single.

As for the bullpen, the Astros’ relievers would have an up and down week. Osuna and Rondón have both seen the most work out of the pen with 4.0 IP each this week. Both would surrender a run, combining to give up the game-tying and game-losing runs in the final game of the Seattle series. They would each log clean innings in their three other outings, with Osuna picking up a win and Rondón converting 2 of his 3 save opportunities. Smith had a good week as well, striking out 4 in 3 clean innings of work and nabbing one of the wins against the Giants. McHugh would have a perfect 1.2 innings of work while Tony Sipp would strikeout 3 to go with 3 hits in 2 IP. Peacock would appear in 2 innings of relief for Verlander after he exited early in his last start and would strikeout 5 Mariners without giving up a run. Harris and Pressly each had a bad outing this week, with Harris giving up 2 runs and Pressly only surrendering 1.

Houston will look to bust out of its funk and get on a roll as the A’s are suddenly 2 games back in the division and charging hard.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: German Márquez, RHP (9-9, 4.69 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (11-7, 2.50 ERA)

Márquez takes the mound for Colorado with a somewhat middling season on the year. In what has become the stereotype for Rockies pitchers, Márquez is one of the better road pitchers in the NL with a 3.09 ERA away from Denver. Even so, his three most recent starts have been good even with 2 at Coors Field. His ERA is outpacing his FIP slightly, but his 3.55 xFIP does make it seem like he will be a bigger challenge than his ERA suggests.

Verlander comes into this game after his worst start in an Astros uniform. He would get slapped around for 6 runs in the first two innings before being ejected for arguing a balk call that changed the entire outcome of the game. Verlander had had three starts in a row where he gave up 2 runs or less before that, but has seen his fair share of struggles in the last month and a half. He does seem to be coming down to earth as his secondary numbers show he should be, but he does still have strong walk and strikeout rates, showing that command is still there.

If Verlander can bounce back he should have an edge for Márquez, who is good away from home but not as good as JV.

Game 2: Tyler Anderson, LHP (6-4, 3.94 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole, RHP (10-5, 2.75 ERA)

Anderson comes into this game after a superb 6 inning 1-run start against the Dodgers last week. However, before that match up he would struggle with command issues through two straight start,s including a 7-run drubbing at the hands of the Brewers. Anderson would pitch well in his game against the Astros earlier this season, going 7.1 innings and only allowing 2 runs, one earned, while striking out four. His numbers show that he might be benefiting from a slight bit of luck, but it doesn’t look like a large fall is on the way.

Cole makes this start after a bit of tough luck in his last outing where he would cruise through 7 innings before hitting a snag in the 8th thanks in part to some questionable calls at the plate. 4 ER would go on his ledger though a couple of those were allowed by Pressly, who relieved Cole with a the bases loaded and no outs. Cole had 6.1 quality innings the last time he faced Colorado, striking out 9 while only giving up 2 ER. Cole’s numbers are more or less lined up at this point, suggesting that he may be able to keep up his string of good starts.

Anderson has been having a good year but I see Cole as the more dominant pitcher here.

Fun Fact

Even with the tough series against the Mariners, the Astros are still only 5-5 in their last 10 games and tied with the 2017 and 1998 seasons for best team record after 119 games.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, August 15th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rockies - KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB.TV

Game 2: Wednesday, August 16th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rockies - KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM / Astros - KBME 790, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB.TV


Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (65 votes)
  • 42%
    Series Split 1-1
    (74 votes)
  • 21%
    Rockies Sweep 2-0
    (37 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now