clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2019 Series Preview #37: Colorado Rockies @ Houston Astros

New, 8 comments

The Astros (73-40, 1st in AL West) end the homestand with two games against NL “rival” Rockies (52-60, 4th in NL West)

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Recency Bias

Rockies

The Rockies arrive in Minute Maid as the Astros’ NL “rival” for the 2019 season, which has turned out to be a huge letdown for Colorado. They were expected to at least compete for a Wild Card spot if not make a run at the division, but have since fallen by the wayside in the West. The Rox also currently sit 8 games under .500 and 6.5 games out from the second wild card. Though they certainly have a chance to make a run at the postseason, the team hasn’t exactly inspired hope for their fans in recent days. They did manage to win a weekend series against the Giants, but it was their first such victory in the past six tries, and they own a 6-14 record in that time.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While the Rockies’ season has begun to circle the drain, Charlie Blackmon has continued to produce as one of their better hitters this season even though he started a little slow. He owns a .325/.371/.597 slash line on the season and was one of the better players in Colorado’s lineup this week. He’s joined by Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado as the three biggest threats for Colorado this year.

That trio represents the most elite bats in the lineup as they are the only ones with an OPS north of .900 and more than 90 games on the year. Trevor Story is probably the weakest of the three, but only due to his average not being quite as evenly balanced with his slugging percentage. It’s still at a rather healthy .283 though, so I don’t think anyone in Denver is complaining.

Houston can expect to possibly see some fireworks off of the bats of Daniel Murphy and Ian Desmond, who have both been having good seasons as well. Murphy has bounced back nicely since returning from the IL due to a broken finger, and has been swinging a hot bat in recent games. Desmond has also been hot recently, in fact the entirety of the Rockies offense has been really been putting it to opposing pitchers in recent days.

Unfortunately, while I hate to say “Denver effect,” those recent games have been taking place in Colorado. The fact of the matter is that the team has terrible home/away splits this year. They go from being literally the best offense in baseball while at home to being the one of the worst when away.

The Rockies simply haven’t produced much of a threat on the road this year. While you can’t count them out as they are still a professional ball club, they will have a big test against Greinke and Cole in the next two days.

Injury Note: LF David Dahl had also been having a good season until he was carted off the field this past week with a nasty looking ankle injury. Obviously he won’t be available for this series.

San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Rockies bullpen has just gone through a change as manager Bud Black confirmed that Wade Davis has been officially removed from the closer role. Scott Oberg will take over “for the time being” as Davis will be moved to the middle innings. This comes after Davis posted an absolutely hideous 11.29 ERA at Coors Field to go with a ridiculously remarkable 0.68 ERA on the road. Yikes.

His replacement, Scott Oberg, has consistently been one of the better relievers in a pen much in need of such things. In 53 innings and 46 games, he has turned in a 1.53 ERA to go with a .184 BAA, 1.04 WHIP, and 54 strikeouts. Oberg will have a chance to prove himself as closer now that Davis is taking a breather.

Bryan Shaw is also candidate for holds out of the pen, and has been preforming in front of Oberg for most of the season. While he has stumbled in a few of his recent appearances, for the most part Shaw is enjoying a pretty good 2019. He has been rewarded for that by being handed the ball the most of any other reliever, pitching 56.2 innings this year.

Carlos Estevez has also been a workhorse for the Rox, but he has been placed on emergency family leave and will miss all of this series because of that.

Jake McGee has been one of the better relievers for the Rockies this season as well, but he’s only seen 29.2 innings of work in 2019. He is sporting 3.03 ERA in that time, so he is certainly one of the more consistent relievers.

Sam Howard, Jairo Diaz, and converted starter Chad Bettis round out the arms for Colorado’s pen, but none of them have been particularly impressive this year.

Astros

Meanwhile, Houston has more or less been the opposite of the Rockies, having yet to lose a series since returning from the All-Star Break. In that time they’ve gone 16-7 with three winning streaks of at least 3 games, including the one they’re currently on. While the offense has been on a higher level in recent play, they’ve also done it on the backs of excellent pitching, especially in recent series. I’m not just talking about the recent combined no-hitter though, Houston pitching has only surrendered more than 3 runs once in the past 18 games.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

While I sing the praises of the pitching above, there’s also the fact that the offense has been on some sort of crazy tear in recent days. It’s hard to single anyone out with Correa, Altuve, Bregman, and Alvarez all turning in an OPS above 1.000 and playing in each of the past 6 games.

I’d like to point out how red-hot Altuve has been recently, having finally seen his average climb to .300 for the season just this past week. Even so, it really has been a team effort for the Astros. In the last week the team has 9 players with a home run and 6 who have at least two doubles.

Even the part timers are getting into the act with both Maldonado and Marisnick popping a couple of bombs this week. Of course it does help that they had a 6-homer game against the Mariners, but still.

Unfortunately, both Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel have cooled off during that stretch with an OPS of .614 and .463, respectively. However, they have managed to find the hits at timely moments, with 11 RBI between the two of them.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Astros pitching has been off the scale recently, and that fact is definitely reflected in the performance of the bullpen this week. Not only was newly acquired reliever Joe Biagini part of a combined four-pitcher, no-hit game earlier this weekend, he was just one of 6 relievers who were hitless in 11 of the 17 bullpen innings this week.

Devo and Osuna have both been perfect altogether this week in 5 innings between them, with Osuna picking up two saves and Devo getting the honor of closing out the no-hitter. Harris also continued his career year with three strong appearances, as did Joe Smith.

Speaking of Smith, he’s looked good since returning from an Achilles injury, having yet to give up a run in 6.2 IP.

The biggest stumble of the week belongs to Collin McHugh, who surrendered 4 runs in a single inning of relief against the Indians. He would bounce back with 2 clean innings against the M’s, but also gave up 3 walks in that appearance. Those 4 runs are the only runs surrendered by the bullpen in the past 6 games.

Pitching Match Ups

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: German Márquez, RHP (10-5, 4.68 ERA) vs Zack Greinke, RHP (10-4, 2.90 ERA)

Márquez gets the ball after three straight dominant starts, two of which came on the road where he has been stellar this season. His best start was his most recent one, which featured just 2 hits across 6 innings of shutout baseball. Márquez has tossed a few clunkers this season though, but all but one of his worst starts have come at home. His FIP and xFIP seem to agree, averaging out to around a full run below his ERA. He pitched a decent game for Denver when last he faced the Astros, giving up 4 runs across 6 innings.

All eyes will be on Houston to see how the newly acquired Zack Greinke performs in his debut as an Astro. Greinke has had a season that has reflected exactly what you would expect from a crafty veteran, He’s giving up less than a home run per inning in spite of pitching in Arizona regularly, and he’s not giving out a ton of free passes. Greinke is quite familiar with the Rockies, having faced them four times already this season. Three of those were quality starts with a couple of dominant ones, but he did have a rough game against them where he surrendered 5 runs across 7 innings.

Game 2: Peter Lambert, RHP (2-2, 5.71 ERA) vs Gerrit Cole, RHP (13-5, 2.87 ERA)

Peter Lambert will make his 11th career MLB start in this game, having come through a rough patch following very early success. He gave up 4 runs his last time out, but it was the most runs he’d given up in the last 4 games. Lambert has spent the last season and a half at AAA and his MLB numbers aren’t far off from what he showed at that level. His strikeout rate has seen a bit of a bump recently, but it’s hardly anything to write home about at 6.92 per 9 innings.

Cole takes the mound in the midst of one of his best stretch of starts this season. He’s only surrendered more than a run once in his last 9 starts. He’s also tossed 7 innings of 1-run ball in each of his last 4 starts as well. Cole’s strikeout rate has cooled a little in his last couple of games, and he recently dipped below a 13.00 K/9 rate for the first time in a while. He’ll have a chance to maybe get back there if he can fire off another double digit K game like he has 12 other times this season.

Fun Fact(s)

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, August 6th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rockies - KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rockies - ATT Sportsnet-RM / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Wednesday, August 7th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rockies - KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 850 AM
Watch: Rockies - ATT Sportsnet-RM / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 85%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (275 votes)
  • 12%
    Series Split 1-1
    (41 votes)
  • 1%
    Rockies Sweep 2-0
    (4 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now