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Oakland A’s Series Preview #2: Rockies mount challenge

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Oakland’s first interleague action of 2020

Colorado Rockies Photo Day
The NL Matt Chapman
Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s won their first series of the 2020 season, taking three of four games from the division rival Los Angeles Angels. Now they’ll take on their first interleague opponent of the summer, for two games at the Coliseum.

Colorado Rockies

  • 2019 record: 72-90
  • 2020 record: 2-1

After a couple playoff berths in 2017-18, the Rockies took a fall last summer. They lost 91 games, performing poorly on both sides of the ball. The pitching staff allowed the second-most runs in the majors and had the second-worst FIP, and even after accounting for their notorious ballpark they were 7th-worst in the ERA- adjusted metric. On offense, despite scoring the ninth-most runs, they ranked 26th with an 86 wRC+ and 24th in position player fWAR.

However, there is still optimism in Denver. The lineup does have a few established stars, plus a couple exciting up-and-comers and the potential for a strong lineup from top to bottom. Meanwhile, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, and German Marquez present three chances for rotation standouts — Freeland finished fourth for Cy Young in 2018 before faltering last year, and former national Top 20 prospect Gray joined former Top 100 prospect Marquez as their lone good starters last summer. Their closer is Wade Davis, which used to be a good thing, and he’ll look to bounce back from an 8.65 ERA last season.

They were bad in 2019, and they might be again in 2020. But they at least have the upside to improve and get back on track, so they shouldn’t be taken lightly just yet. After all, they do have the NL Matt Chapman, in Nolan Arenado.

The Rox did almost nothing during the offseason, handing out a couple small extensions and picking up some minor league free agents but otherwise standing pat for another try. One of those minor additions was reliever Daniel Bard, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 due to injuries and a case of the yips, but the 35-year-old made the team and debuted on Saturday. They also took a flyer on Matt Kemp, who served as DH on Saturday against a lefty starter.

They did take a loss during the shutdown, though, as OF/1B Ian Desmond opted out of the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, with all due respect, this may have helped the team, as he’s been a poor hitter and sub-replacement-level player for three straight years, and now they won’t have to pay him his hefty salary or give him at-bats. On Monday they had another opt-out, lefty reliever Tim Collins, though he was at their alternate camp and not on their active roster.

Projected lineup

  • CF David Dahl (L)
  • SS Trevor Story (R)
  • DH Charlie Blackmon (L)
  • 3B Nolan Arenado (R)
  • 1B Daniel Murphy (L)
  • 2B Ryan McMahon (L)
  • LF Raimel Tapia (L)
  • RF Sam Hilliard (L)
  • C Tony Wolters (L)

The lineup leans heavily to the left, which works because the A’s will throw two righty starters at them. There are a few platoon options on the bench, though, including Kemp, Chris Owings, and recent Top 100 prospect Garrett Hampson. Look out for Hilliard, one of their farm’s 10 best prospects, who had a hot debut last year and brings plus power.

Starting pitchers

These are the two expected starters:

  • Tue: Antonio Senzatela (R) vs. Daniel Mengden (6:40 p.m.)
  • Wed: German Marquez (R) vs. Frankie Montas (12:40 p.m.)

The A’s have the opposite, disadvantageous platoon situation, as they’ll also face two RHPs but have a lineup full of mostly righty hitters. Still, Oakland’s offense is strong regardless of the opponent.

The opening game brings Senzatela, who posted a 6.71 ERA and 5.44 FIP last year, with poor rates in every major stat. He does at least throw hard, averaging nearly 94 mph on his fastball and reaching 98 last season.

Then comes a tougher test in Marquez, who racked up 3 WAR last summer and 4 WAR the year before. He beat the A’s in their only previous meeting back in 2018, allowing two runs in seven innings, though those runs came on solo homers by Matt Chapman and Khris Davis. His 4.76 ERA last year was better than it looked once adjusted, and he strikes out at least a batter per inning; in 2018 he totaled 230 of them, at a rate of 10.6 K/9.

Marquez was solid in his first 2020 start on Opening Day, working into the 6th inning in a 1-0 loss. He hit 98 mph on the radar in that game, and he can go even higher than that, along with several secondary offerings.

Bench/Bullpen

Here’s the Rockies’ full 30-man roster:

Colorado Rockies 30-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

German Marquez (R)
Jon Gray (R)
Kyle Freeland (L)
Antonio Senzatela (R)
Chi Chi Gonzalez (R)
Jeff Hoffman (R)

Relievers

Wade Davis (R)
Yency Almonte (R)
Daniel Bard (R)
Jairo Diaz (R)
Phillip Diehl (L)
Carlos Estevez (R)
Ashton Goudeau (R)
Tyler Kinley (R)
James Pazos (L)
Catchers

Tony Wolters (L)
Drew Butera (R)
Elias Diaz (R)

Infielders

Daniel Murphy (L)
Ryan McMahon (L)
Trevor Story (R)
Nolan Arenado (R)
Josh Fuentes (R)
Garrett Hampson (R)
Chris Owings (R)

Outfielders

Charlie Blackmon (L)
David Dahl (L)
Sam Hilliard (L)
Matt Kemp (R)
Raimel Tapia (R)

10-day IL: RHP Scott Oberg (back)

45-day IL: RHP Peter Lambert (TJS)