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2021 Series Preview: Colorado Rockies @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (66-46, 1st in AL West) welcome the Rockies (51-61, 4th in NL West) to town for a quick Texas Two-Step

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

Quick Notes

The Rockies have seen a season of highs and lows as they have played like absolute beasts in the rarefied Denver air but more like curs on the road. The Astros fell victim to that very dynamic earlier this season when they were handed a mini-sweep at Coors Field during a snowy two-game series back in April.

It’s hard to really explain just how bad the Rockies have been on the road, but their 13-40 away record is the biggest reason they they’re not in contention, especially with a sparkling 38-21 home record. For context, that home record is better than both the Dodgers and Giants in their home stadiums. They’d be at 65-47 and just one game back from Houston if they had just played around .500 on the road.

But if ifs and buts were candies and nuts we’d all be having a Merry Christmas. The fact of the matter is that the Rockies have played terribly on the road and this presents an opportunity for Houston to right its own ship, which has languished back into the midst of the Division/Wild Card race. This may just be two games, but if Houston wants to play meaningful ball come October, this would be a great place to start turning it on against sub-500 teams.

Last 10 Games: 7-3 Record, 1 Series Split, 1 Series Win, 1 Series Sweep, +24 Run Differential (70 Scored, 46 Allowed)

W/L Splits: 38-21 at home, 13-40 on the road, 28-46 against teams over .500


Offense

As one can expect when looking at their record, the Rockies’ offense has been Jekyll and Hide when it comes to home and road games. They lead MLB with an .834 OPS at Coors Field that quickly flips to a vomit-inducing .616 on the road, which is last in the league.

There’s really nothing to be happy about about when it comes to traditional batting stats during the Rockies’ away games. The team is dead last on the road when it comes to runs (168), hits (370), home runs (43), RBI (156), batting average (.212), and slugging (.331). Not to belabor the point here, but just rest assured that the Rox are really bad on the road.

Notable Players:

  • C.J. Cron (.257/.366/.493), who you may remember in an Angels uniform a few years back, has been one of Colorado’s better players this season. He comes into the series after snagging NL Player of the Week honors, partially on the back of a two-homer game, including a grand slam, this past Sunday.
  • Ryan McMahon (.266/.338/.477) has probably been the Rockies’ second best player this season so far as stats go. He’s tied with Cron for the team lead in homers (18) and is just second for RBI (58).
  • Trevor Story (.256/.329/.460) remains one of the bigger names for the Rockies and one that everyone thought would maybe be on the move before the trade deadline. But he remains with the Rox as one of the bigger power threats in the lineup, though not the biggest if you judge by SLG.

Pitching

In a reversal of what you would expect without looking at the win-loss record, Rockies pitching has actually ben almost a full ERA point worse on the road this season. The 5.15 road ERA is 25th in the league, and a 1.45 WHIP and .266 BAA says that it’s well deserved.

It also doesn’t help that the relief corps for the Rockies has been a dumpster fire this season. The bullpen owns a league-worst 5.45 ERA across 364.2 IP, which is the third least amount of work by any MLB bullpen. They have also blown 19 saves out of 40 opportunities this season, which is not exactly a stat you want at the 50% mark.

Meanwhile, starters have been more average than good on the whole this year. Most of their traditional stats sit near the middle of the pack in comparison to the rest of the league, though they do have 3 complete games under their belt, which seem pretty valuable considering how terrible the bullpen has been.

Notable Relievers:

  • Daniel Bard (RHP, 4.14 ERA, 45.2 IP, 58 K’s) is currently the Rockies’ closer and has done well enough in the role for them this season, successfully converting 18 of 24 save opportunities. That feels almost like a lucky stat though as his 1.51 WHIP and .267 BAA suggest that his ERA should be even higher.
  • Other than Bard, Carlos Estevez (RHP, 4.81 ERA, 39.1 IP, 39 K’s) and Jhoulys Chacin (RHP, 4.12 ERA, 39.1 IP, 32 K’s) will probably see the bulk of high leverage innings for the Rockies, especially after they traded away Mychal Givens at the deadline.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jon Gray (RHP, 7-7, 3.67 ERA, 101 K’s) vs Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 4-6, 4.95 ERA, 57 K’s)

This will be the more favorable matchup of the two games for the Rockies as Gray has been one of their better pitchers this season. He’s only really had three or four bad games this year, and is coming into this game after firing off 6 innings of 3-run ball against the Cubs his last time out. Gray had his way in Colorado when he faced the Astros back in April, holding Houston down for just 1 run in 6.2 innings.

Game 2: Antonio Senzatela (RHP, 2-8, 4.73 ERA, 71 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 7-3, 3.22 ERA, 73 K’s)

Senzatela has had a fairly average season as a starter, punctuated with the occasional clunker and excellent start. Freshly returned from the COVID IL, he tossed 4.2 innings and surrendered 4 runs his last time out against the Cubs, but with almost a full month between MLB starts, I’m sure there was some rust on the arm in that game. This will be his first start against the Astros this season.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, August 10th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rockies - KOA 850 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW

Game 2: Wednesday, August 11th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Rockies - KOA 850 AM / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Rockies - ATT SportsNet-RM / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / MLB Network (out-of-market only)


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (56 votes)
  • 42%
    Series Split 1-1
    (56 votes)
  • 15%
    Rockies Sweep 2-0
    (21 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now