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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Colorado Rockies

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The Astros (7-8, 5th in AL West) gain some altitude as they finish off their road trip with two against the Rockies (4-12, 5th in NL West)

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

Rockies Quick Notes

The Narrative

The Astros arrive in Denver today to play against the team with the worst record in baseball, which couldn’t come at a better time for the reeling Houston team. Of course, the Astros haven’t exactly performed well against teams that they should be beating handily on paper, so we’ll see if that actually pays off.

As for the Rockies themselves, the team has recently taken on the mantle of most bumbling MLB team after an offseason that featured the trade of their best player. After negotiating one of the largest contract extensions ever with superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado, the situation between him and the team quickly soured. That eventually led to them trading Arenado to the Cardinals, but the trade has been widely panned as a steal for St. Louis. This is most likely due to the Rox paying a big chunk of salary in that generous contract extension and getting only a few lottery tickets in return while the Cardinals get one of the best 3B in the league. So not the best.

This change in status from contender for pretender has to have the purple faithful feeling pretty frustrated after the Rockies looked like a postseason-ready team just a couple of years ago. Now they just look to be going nowhere fast and the Nolan Arenado debacle is indicative of that while also being a source of consternation.

The real cherry on top for the Rockies has been the complete disaster out of the gate for them. The team has already been swept twice this season and own the worst record in baseball at 4-12. While the offense at home has been on par with what you expect at high altitude, the pitching hasn’t been able to hold on to leads in any meaningful fashion so far in 2021. Of course, it doesn’t help that they’ve already faced the Dodgers twice so far this year, going 1-6 against the defending champs.

Hopefully the Astros can get some of their mojo back against the Rockies, who should be easy meat in theory. While they haven’t had a great time against teams that should be easy wins (damn you, Detroit), Houston will be getting a couple of big boppers back in the form of Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. They will be returning to play in frigid weather though, so we’ll have to see how that pans out.

The Offense

Even with the offense getting some decent results at home, that has been brought down with some pretty bad ones on the road. The Rockies, as a team, now have a .655 OPS, which is good for 25th in the league. They are also dead last in OBP (.270) and walks (35), which I suppose sort of go hand in hand. That walks number is somewhat alarming considering that the Rox haven’t missed any games this season the way some other teams have.

When it comes to individual performances, there’s really not a whole lot to write home about for Colorado. Second baseman Ryan McMahon has easily been the Rockies’ best slugger so far this season, slashing .267/.279/.633. A big part of that comes from the 6 taters that he’s mashed in 2021 along with 4 doubles in just 16 hits.

Trevor Story, now one of their biggest stars after Arenado’s departure, also remains a steady presence in the lineup thanks to getting on base at a .302 clip, but his numbers aren’t exactly gaudy. His power has been off from what we’re used to seeing though, as he only has 5 extra base hits this season and none of those are homers.

After those two players the offense sort of dries up when it comes to everyday players. Charlie Blackmon in particular has gotten off to a rough start with a .191/.283/.340 slash line. Blackmon is someone who has carried this team in the past, so starting out so weakly has been problematic, to say the least.

Of course, that’s not to say that it’s all doom and gloom. In a relatively small sample size 2B Chris Owings, LF Yonathan Daza, and C Dom Nunez have all delivered quite handily for the Rockies. Chris Owings in particular has been a beast at the plate, but is now on the IL with a thumb injury that looks like it will keep him on the shelf for quite a while. So that’s kind of how things are going in Denver, offensively speaking.

The Bullpen

As poor as the offense has been for the Rockies, the relievers have been worse. They’re next to last in MLB with a 5.80 ERA in 54 innings and are tied for 3rd most when it comes to hits surrendered (65). They have also blown four of six possible save opportunities.

Daniel Bard is currently listed as the closer for the Rockies and has managed to successfully convert 2 of his 3 opportunities. He has given up 3 earned runs across 6.2 IP but also leads the team with 11 strikeouts.

Mychal Givens and Yency Almonte seemed to be slated for the high leverage spots for Colorado coming out of Spring Training. Givens has been good so far and is currently one of only 3 relievers for the Rockies with an ERA below 4. That doesn’t mean a whole lot so early in the season, but it’s indicative of a good performance so far. He’s also seen the most work with 7 IP so far in 2021.

As for Almonte, his performance has been somewhat less than stellar. Out of his seven appearances, he’s given up 2 runs twice and 3 another time, including his most recent game, which was against the Dodgers to be fair. He also hasn’t appeared since the 15th, so his star may have fallen somewhat in the Rockies’ pen.

A possible replacement for him is Tyler Kinley, who now appears third on the bullpen depth chart. Kinley also has an inflated ERA at 6.23 across 4.1 IP though, but has still been more effective than Almonte if stats are to be believed.

Either way, at this point in the season it’s hard to tell where things are headed for Colorado’s bullpen. They have been shaky to start and that may put things in flux as they try and figure out ways to bridge the back end of games to Bard. So far Givens seems to be the only arm solidly holding down his end of the bargain on a consistent basis.

The Starters

Jon Gray (RHP, 1-1, 2.87 ERA, 15 K’s) comes into this game fresh off of a 3-run, 4 IP performance against the Dodgers. Though it was easily his worst start of the season, Gray showed some resilience by bouncing back from a rough 1st inning, though he did eventually take the L. His first two starts of the season went much smoother as he only gave up 2 ER across 11.2 total innings in both of those.

Austin Gomber (LHP, 0-2, 3.52 ERA, 14 K’s) will get the ball in Game 2 after a quality start against the Dodgers his last time out. It was his second consecutive quality start after making it into the 7th inning with just 2 runs surrendered in his previous game against the Giants. Gomber is trying to stick in the rotation after bouncing back and forth between starter and reliever for the Rockies since his 2018 debut.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, April 20th @ 7:40 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2 / Rockies - KOA 850 AM, KNRV 1150
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM

Game 2: Wednesday, April 21st @ 2:10 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Rockies - KOA 850 AM, KNRV 1150
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW+ / Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (39 votes)
  • 37%
    Series Split 1-1
    (28 votes)
  • 9%
    Rockies Sweep 2-0
    (7 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now