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Series #34: Athletics at Rockies - Mile High Baseball

MLB: Houston Astros at Colorado Rockies Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports

Rockies’ Current Record:

54-47, one game back of the NL Wildcard and two games back of the division-leading Dodgers. The Rockies have won eight of their last ten games, most recently trading blows with the AL West leading Astros. The Rockies are only 24-24 while playing at home.

Possible Lineup:

Charlie Blackmon - CF

Gerardo Parra - LF

Nolan Arenado - 3B

Carlos Gonzalez - RF

Trevor Story - SS

Ian Desmond - 1B

Garrett Hampson - 2B

Chris Iannetta - C

Pitcher’s Spot

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Kyle Freeland - LHP

Antonio Senzatela - RHP

German Marquez - RHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

Wade Davis has gotten some heavy usage in his last couple of games, but with Colorado’s off day on Thursday and the rest of the bullpen only minimally used Tuesday and Wednesday against Houston, the Rockies’ bullpen can cover a lot of innings if need be.

Hottest Hitter(s):

It is one of baseball’s great little quirks that Arenado was just one year Matt Chapman’s senior at the same OC high school, as the two best third baseman in the game. Arenado has been a difference maker on both sides of the ball since his debut, currently sporting a .973 OPS on the season with twenty five home runs and still superb fielding numbers by any measure. With the former teammates taking the field on opposite teams, it will be fascinating to watch how each of them perform at the hot corner.

Coldest Hitter(s):

Coors effect or not, the Rockies are a very good hitting team and there are threats up and down the lineup, even if the player is relatively unknown. Sort of like Oakland’s lineup. However, even good lineups have their weak points, and for the Rockies, that is around first base. Ian Desmond’s numbers are fine, with a mid-.700 OPS and decent power, but he’s nothing special for a first baseman, especially when he is (or once had been) capable of playing more premium positions. The real disappointment this year is Pat Valaika, whose magical bat seemed to get sapped of its powers in the offseason, and is currently hitting a paltry .137/.212/.211 in a part time role, and has been sent down to the minor leagues twice this year.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Coors effect or not, for as good as the Rockies’ offense has been, the pitching has been mediocre. This fact comes as no surprise to anyone who just casually watches Colorado, as good hitting/average-to-bad pitching has been the team’s MO for the entirety of its existence. Of course, there are still standouts, like lefty starting pitcher Kyle Freeland, who has thrived in the mile high city, pitching to an ERA below 3.30 in twenty starts this year. In the bullpen, Adam Ottavino has been a godsend for the team, his performance similar in results to someone like Lou Trivino. With Wade Davis closing most games for Colorado, this allows Ottavino to be used more strategically in close games.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Jon Gray, despite his gaudy strikeout numbers, can’t keep his ERA below 5.00 and struggled enough to get himself sent down to the minors for a spell earlier in the season. Brian Shaw, after years of success in Cleveland, has been horrible in his adjustment to Colorado, his ERA near 7.00 while still making the most relief appearances of anyone on the team.

Key Injuries:

The Rockies have been getting banged up more and more recently. Young studs D.J. LeMahieu and David Dahl are both absent from the lineup with oblique and foot injuries, creating holes that they have (so far) been able to patch up without missing all too much on the position player side. On the pitching side, Chad Bettis is sidelined for the next month or so, and a couple of garbage time relievers in Mike Dunn and Chris Rusin are trying to work their way back onto the field.

* * *

It is not every day that the A’s and their impressively power bats are given the gift of playing in Denver. With the team flexing a lot of muscle in the sweltering Texas heat this week, averaging over eight runs a game against the poor Rangers, going to Colorado gives their big bats a chance to continue inflicting massive damage. However, the Rockies are no slouches, unlike the aforementioned Rangers, who helped the A’s make up ground on the Astros in the standings by earning a series split versus Houston as the A’s swept away. If the ferocity and relentless of scoring last series felt special, yet stressful and alcohol-inducing, well, there is a good chance that the pace won’t let up.

This series also means the two best third baseman, and two of the top ten players in the sport, will be going head-to-head in Matt Chapman and Nolan Arenado. Both players have undeniable skill on both sides of the ball, but surely everyone can agree that Arenado has the more developed and dangerous bat, while Chapman has the more polished and game-changing glove. At the end of Sunday’s game, which of the two third-base titans will emerge as the superior player?

Game #105: Friday, July 27th, 5:40 - NBCSCA, ATT Sportsnet RM, MLB.tv

Sean Manaea vs Kyle Freeland

Each of the team’s top lefties are going head to head in front of the Friday night lights. Manaea has fully recovered from a disappointing May, and is back to throwing like the number-two starter fans have dreamed of him developing into. Freeland has been the strongest member of the Rockies’ shaky rotation, and while he has struggled to pitch beyond five innings recently, his run prevention has still been unparalleled by anyone else on the staff.

Game #106: Saturday, July 28th, 5:10 - NBCSCA, ATT Sportsnet RM, MLB.tv

Brett Anderson vs Antonio Senzatela

Anderson bought himself more time in the rotation with his strong six-inning start against Texas his last time out, but with the A’s bullpen in desperate need of a lefty and Daniel Mengden and Chris Bassitt waiting in the wings in AAA, one is still forced to wonder if this start will be the last Anderson makes for the team. Senzatela has made just one start since returning from a finger injury, and was knocked around in five innings pitched. Hopefully, for the A’s offense, he will still be looking to find his groove on Saturday.

Game #107: Sunday, July 29th, 12:10 - NBCSCA, ATT Sportsnet RM, MLB.tv

Frankie Montas vs German Marquez

After a strong start to 2018, Montas’ inability to put away hitters, even with one of the fastest average heaters for a starting pitcher, is starting to bite him in the rear. More of the contact Montas is giving up is starting to find outfield grass, and with the A’s rotation in flux and decimated by injuries, the A’s season may depend on Montas learning how to strike guys out in the show. German Marquez is a bit of the Rockies’ Jekyll and Hyde, a very solid pitcher on the road and a very solid gascan at home. A day game in Colorado, with Montas and Marquez on the mound, checks all the boxes for a slugfest.