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2019 Series Preview #28: Houston Astros @ Colorado Rockies

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The Astros (53-32, 1st in AL West) get a little elevated with a quick two-game series against the Rockies (44-40, 2nd in NL West)

Houston Astros v Colorado Rockies Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Recency Bias

Astros

The Astros head to Denver after a rather uplifting series against the Mariners that featured two straight walkoff wins and putting to bed a pretty awful stretch of baseball. Though they lost the first series against the Pirates, the team did at least continue its winning ways at home with a successful 4-2 homestand. It was also quite helpful to have a series against the Mariners, a team that Houston has traditionally used as a launching pad for winning streaks and good stretches of baseball. They were also able to make up some ground in the division, gaining a couple of games on the Rangers.

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The big bat of the week has been Yuli, who has reached another level in recent games. In the last two series he has gone 7-for-20 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, 2 walks, and no strikeouts. Two of those hits were the extra inning game winners in back-to-back games, a feat that hasn’t happened for an Astro in a decade.

Bregman has also started to find more solid hits, which is good to see. While high OBP and good plate appearances continue to be Bregman’s calling card, his average has slipped a little in 2019. This last week has been a reversal of that trend mixed with some pop as Alex now has a homer, a triple, and 2 doubles in 23 ABs.

Reddick also has had a fine week to continue his season, which has been an improvement over 2018. He also popped a homer this week, probably one of the more significant ones as his tied the first game against the M’s that Houston would later win in extras.

Of course we have to talk about Yordan Alvarez, who continues to electrify the offense in the cleanup spot. He would have to take a couple of days off after banging up his knee on a foul ball, but seemed very much to be back to business with a double and 3 RBI in the finale against Seattle.

Chirinos and Springer have both had productive weeks as well, with Springer picking up right where he left off before going on the IL. Altuve, Marisnick and Straw all hovered around .300 OBP for the week though there wasn’t much power out of their bats.

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The bullpen also had themselves a bit of a turnaround this week, with only three runs being surrendered by relievers who came into traditional relief role. That does not include Cy Sneed, who has a 6-inning relief appearance that was made necessary by Peacock’s early exit during his last start.

That does include Pressly though, who has begun to look a little more human in recent games. It seems as though his numbers might be hovering a little closer to earth, which was always an inevitability.

Luckily Will Harris continues to step up in his role out of the pen, as does Josh James. They are joined by McHugh as probably the three most solid pitchers who saw innings this week. Osuna logged a couple of scoreless innings this week as well, but there weren’t any save opportunities in the 9th to slot him in to.

Devo stumbled a little this week while giving up 2 runs in 4 innings of work, but there has been much to be encouraged by during his recent performance. At the very least he’s settled well into a low-leverage, innings-eater role out of the pen, which has proven immensely useful lately.

Rockies

The Rockie have had a bit of a back-and-forth June, pretty much trading series wins for losses and even being on both ends of a sweep in consecutive series. They start this series after a 4-3 week where they won 2 of 3 against the Giants before splitting with the Dodgers. The Rockies have been having a somewhat disappointing follow up to their 2018 run as they currently sit 14 games back in the West. However, they also hold a spot of the second wild card along with the Phillies, so they’re still in the thick of it as we approach the mid point of the season.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Rockies’ offense has been led by Charlie Blackmon this season, who is slashing a pretty beefy .337/.383/.653 with 20 homers in 2019. However, the only drawback is that he hasn’t played in as many games as, say, Nolan Arenado, who is the owner of one of the biggest extensions of all time.

That extension has certainly paid off for Colorado, who is enjoying a stellar season from the young superstar. He also has 20 home runs under his belt and is getting on base at a .384 clip, which leads the team.

The only two other players for Colorado with an OPS over .900 this season is David Dahl and Trevor Story. Story is sitting on the IL as of this writing, but is expected to be activated in this series so the Astros will have to deal with the slugging shortstop.

In the near term, Daniel Murphy has been swinging a hot bat, having slashed .400/.474/.467 in the last two series. That’s only about third best in that timeframe for everyday starters though. Blackmon and Dahl have been hotter, as has Chris Ianetta in limited duty as part of the catching platoon.

Raimel Tapia has also been hot as of late but beyond that there hasn’t been much to write home for Colorado’s offense. There were some classic Colorado scores in the last series against the Dodgers, so it looks like the chances are high for a slugfest.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Rockies took a gamble on shoring up their bullpen with big-money names a couple of offseasons ago and the results have been... not great.

Wade Davis has been something of a disaster since taking over the closer role, to the point that Bud Black openly stated that the Rockies were considering removing him from the closer role. This after he has earned a 5.76 ERA in 25 innings and struggled mightily at home. He has converted 12 of 14 save opportunities though.

The obvious replacement for Davis is Scott Oberg, who is sporting a 1.99 ERA, .164 BAA, and a 0.96 WHIP across 40.2 innings of work. While Oberg sees a lot of the high leverage situations, Bryan Shaw is the Rockies’ workhorse out of the pen. He’s tossed 47 innings in 43 games so far this season, and has done well enough with a 3.83 ERA.

Jake McGee has also been money for the Rockies, though he’s only worked 18 innings this year. He’s allowed 3 runs in those innings and, more importantly for Colorado, only surrendered two homers.

Carlos Estévez and Chad Bettis see the most work out of the pen after that at 38.1 and 45.1 IP, respectively. Their numbers don’t really suggest much domination on their part, but definitely expect to see one or the other if someone needs to plug an inning or two in the next couple of games.

Pitching Match Ups

Game 1: Jose Urquidy, RHP (0-0, -.— ERA) vs German Márquez, RHP (8-3, 4.29 ERA)

It was officially announced last night that the Astros would be calling up right-hander Jose Urquidy to start in the injured Peacock’s place in the rotation. This spot will not come back up again before the ASG, so there is some flexibility for the rotation here. Urquidy gets a tough draw in his debut with a game at Colorado, but I’m sure any young pitcher would jump at the chance for this regardless of venue. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read Spencer Morris’ excellent profile of Urquidy here.

Colorado will give the ball to Márquez, who sports a 4-1 record at Coors Field in spite of some poor play on his part. He’s been good in both of his last starts though, both away games and including an 8-inning, 1-run performance against the Dodgers. However, he was lit up at home by both the Cubs and Padres before that, which has been a prevailing theme for him in 2019.

Game 2: Wade Miley, LHP (6-4, 3.39 ERA) vs Peter Lambert, RHP (2-0, 6.57 ERA)

Miley makes this start after an excellent start in Houston against the Mariners. He tossed 6 innings of 1-run ball in that one, but that was just his latest in a string of excellent home starts. Miley has not been as great on the road, and struggled somewhat in his last two starts away from MMP against the Yankees and Reds. He has not tossed a quality start on the road since May 4th against the Angels.

Peter Lambert will make just his 6th career start as he is on a pretty dismal three game stretch. His MLB debut and follow up game went well, only giving up a single run in each of those. Unfortunately for Lambert, things would start to unravel after that, culminating with the Dodgers tagging him for 5 runs in 4.2 innings during his last start at home. He currently sports a 9.95 ERA at Coors Field

Fun Fact

Since moving to the AL in 2013, the Astros have faced off the most against the Arizona Diamondbacks as their interleague “natural rival.” This year they will play the Rockies, who were actually their first NL rival in the 2013 season before Arizona took over the honors.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, July 2nd @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rockies - KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM, KNRV 1150
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM

Game 2: Wednesday, July 3rd @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM / Rockies - KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM, KNRV 1150
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (54 votes)
  • 57%
    Series Split 1-1
    (90 votes)
  • 7%
    Rockies Sweep 2-0
    (12 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now