clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oakland A's series preview: Colorado Rockies to play 23 feet below sea level

The Athletics hope to stop their current losing streak in its tracks as the Colorado Rockies come to town.

Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) celebrates his two run home run with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) celebrates his two run home run with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies (33-42) descend from the Mile High City down to Coliseum digs 23 feet below sea level to face the Oakland Athletics (34-44). Colorado, like the A's, finds itself in last place in its division, though in the case of the Rockies it's because every part of its pitching staff is giving away runs at home and on the road, so it's not just the thin Rocky Mountain air.

The Rockies have lost 12 of their last 18, including two of three while visiting the Giants over the weekend. At the start of the year, they were projected to finish in fourth place in the NL West on Fangraphs with a 74-88 record. They are on pace for 71 wins.

On the mound

Starter Ranks
Rockies NL/AL Ranks A's
15th (5.07) ERA 2nd (3.13)
15th (4.87) FIP 1st (3.41)
15th (4.45) xFIP 5th (3.77)

The Athletics face right-hander David Hale, lefty Jorge De La Rosa, and right-hander Chad Bettis. Away from Coors Field, Colorado starting pitchers own a 4.39 ERA compared to a 5.42 at home. A 4.39 would still rank the Rockies 13th in starting pitcher ERA, however.

The Rockies are doing without Jordan Lyles, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a torn ligament in his toe as of June 1. David Hale is taking his place in the starting rotation.

Given how much the Colorado environment affects pitching, I thought it would be useful to separate the individual Colorado pitching statistics into home and road splits.

Monday vs. RHP David Hale
Monday (7:05 PM PDT)
David Hale vs. Kendall Graveman
Home Road Overall
5.83 6.00 ERA 3.86
5.00 5.10 FIP 4.59
3.47 4.32 xFIP 4.26
19.5% 20.0% K% 14.9%
3.1% 12.0% BB% 7.3%
1.30 1.67 GB/FB 1.65

The Rockies obtained David Hale with Gus Schlosser for minor leaguers Jose Briceno and Chris O'Dowd (son of former general manager Dan O'Dowd). Hale had pitched well between the Braves rotation and bullpen. As a starter for the Braves, Hale owned a 2.45 ERA in six starts, striking out 22 while walking 16.

Hale replaces Jordan Lyles in the rotation, and has just made one road start, where he conceded four earned runs in six innings. Overall, thirty strikeouts against seven walks shows promise, a 4.29 ratio would rank 11th in the NL if he qualified for pitching titles. Hale throws a 91 mph fastball, change, slider, and sinker, according to Brooks Baseball.

Tuesday vs. LHP Jorge De La Rosa
Tuesday (7:05 PM PDT)
Jorge De La Rosa vs. Sonny Gray
Home Road Overall
6.81 1.86 ERA 2.09
5.00 2.53 FIP 2.68
4.20 3.46 xFIP 3.30
22.1% 21.1% K% 22.9%
13.3% 9.2% BB% 6.1%
1.68 2.23 GB/FB 1.69

The 34-year-old Jorge De La Rosa is in the penultimate year of a six-year deal he signed with Colorado in 2010 after he reached free agency. He has remarkable home-road splits this year, but the key to any success he has had has been to keep the ball on the ground.

De La Rosa continues to strike out batters at a decent clip, his 21.8% overall strikeout rate would rank 19th in the NL if he qualified for pitching titles (he started the year on the disabled list). However, he has not walked batters at this rate (12.1% overall) since 2006. That would be the highest walk rate in the NL if he qualified. De La Rosa throws a splitter, 93 mph fastball, cutter, sinker, curve, and slider.

Wednesday vs. RHP Chad Bettis
Wednesday (12:35 PM PDT)
Chad Bettis vs. Jesse Hahn
Home Road Overall
2.84 4.50 ERA 3.47
2.68 4.22 FIP 3.56
3.33 4.05 xFIP 3.84
21.2% 17.7% K% 15.2%
6.8% 7.8% BB% 6.0%
1.75 1.64 GB/FB 2.37

Chad Bettis exceeded his rookie limits in 2014, but he still only has 125 career innings. The 2014 Rockies tried him out in the bullpen, which was a complete disaster to the tune of a 9.12 ERA in 24⅔ innings. Returned to the major league starting rotation on May 14 in place of Tyler Matzek, Bettis has performed admirably for his club in nine starts with a 3.56 ERA overall.

Colorado's second round draft pick in 2010, Bettis throws a 93 mph fastball, curve, change, sinker, and slider.

At the plate and in the field

Rockies NL/AL Ranks A's
1st (4.59) RS/G 4th (4.46)
9th (91) wRC+ 6th (103)
3rd (87) HR 11th (65)
T-1st (.270) AVG 5th (.259)
5th (.320) OBP T-5th (.322)
1st (.437) SLG T-7th (.395)
2nd (.166) ISO 13th (.136)
7th (43) SB 5th (47)
T-8th (45) Errors 15th (71)
7th (3) DRS 7th (3)
8th (0.7) UZR/150 14th (-8.1)
14th (.688) DE T-5th (.717)

The Rockies lead the National League in runs per game, but their home park factors drop them to ninth in the NL in the park-adjusted wRC+. Nolan Arenado is Colorado's star between the Gold Glove winner's Web Gem tarp catches and his 24 home runs good for third in the National League. The Rockies actually have a remarkable number of players hitting with a 100 wRC+ or better. There are not that many easy outs on that Rockies squad.

And oh yeah, there's Troy Tulowitzki, the subject of so many trade rumors over his multiple 5+-WAR seasons and so many lamentations over how injury-prone he has been in his career. He has avoided the injury bug this year, but he has been having a down defensive year according to the advanced defensive metrics.

Sogard Line

The Eric Sogard Line is Sogard's wRC+, representing my gut feel for what represents serviceable offensive production for a bottom of the order hitter with a good glove, but you probably don't want more than one or two of those in your lineup.

Sogard's wRC+ fell from 72 to 69 after he went 2-for-10 against the Royals. The Colorado Rockies have given just nine percent of their plate appearances to batters below the Sogard Line. Namely, those trips to the plate belong to Daniel Descalso (38 wRC+ in 100 plate appearances), Rafael Ynoa (32 wRC+ in 89 PA), and Drew Stubbs (3 wRC+ in 56 PA). Stubbs is no longer on Colorado's 25-man roster.

Here is how the Sogard Line has moved in recent series, and the percentage of plate appearances opponents have given to batters below that line at the start of the series:


Bullpen Ranks
Rockies NL/AL Ranks A's
2nd (248.0) IP 12th (213.2)
15th (4.72) ERA 15th (4.46)
T-12th (3.87) FIP 12th (4.14)
12th (3.90) xFIP 11th (4.09)

Did I mention that it is really hard to pitch in Colorado? Starters are given some forgiveness by managers for the thin air, but they still have pitch limits to adhere to, which is part of why the Rockies are second in bullpen innings pitched despite being in a tie for the third fewest games played in the National League.

Closer John Axford had a tough time of things at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks last week, throwing a combined 57 pitches over two nights.

2015 Stats Recent usage (pitch count from
Player Hand IP ERA K% BB% GB/FB 28-Jun 27-Jun 26-Jun 25-Jun 24-Jun 23-Jun 22-Jun
John Axford R 22.1 2.42 22.3% 10.6% 2.24 25 32

Boone Logan L 22.2 5.16 25.9% 12.0% 1.00 4 4 7
Tommy Kahnle R 13.1 3.38 28.6% 17.9% 3.17 37 12 20
LaTroy Hawkins R 12.2 5.68 24.1% 5.2% 2.40 5 2 12
Rafael Betancourt R 21.1 6.75 23.7% 5.4% 0.50 19 15
Scott Oberg R 29.1 4.60 15.7% 6.6% 1.85 13 16 12
Christian Friedrich L 31.2 4.26 21.8% 4.5% 1.35 14 2
Christian Bergman R 38.2 4.66 15.3% 4.9% 1.30 29 36 4

The games and promotions

The only promotion for this series is Free Parking Tuesdays! Should be a quiet weekday series at the Coliseum. Wednesday's day game is actually one of the two full-scale broadcasts added to the television schedule last May, and is not a radio simulcast.

Time (PT) Probable starters TV
Monday 7:05 PM David Hale vs. Kendall Graveman CSNCA
Tuesday 7:05 PM Jorge De La Rosa vs. Sonny Gray CSNCA
Wednesday 12:35 PM Chad Bettis vs. Jesse Hahn CSNCA (addition to broadcast schedule)