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Series Preview 7/30-8/2: Rockies vs. Cardinals

The Rockies are in town for four games with the Cards

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Martinez will make his return to the mound on Monday.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After winning the weekend series against the Cubs, the Cardinals will welcome the Rockies to Busch Stadium for a four-game series that will begin on Monday.

As play commences on Monday, the 53-52 Cardinals sit in fourth place in the National League Central division, trailing the Cubs by eight games. The Brewers sit 1 12 games back of the Cubs, and the Pirates are seven back. In a National League West that is very competitive, the Dodgers lead the Diamondbacks by a half-game and the 57-47 Rockies by a full game.

On Monday night, Carlos Martinez will make his first start off the disabled list against Tyler Anderson at 7:10 PM Central time. To accommodate Martinez’s return and the arrival of Chasen Shreve from the Yankees, Luke Gregerson was placed on the disabled list and Tyler Webb was optioned to Memphis. Martinez missed one start with a right oblique strain and enters his assignment with a 5.32 ERA over his last nine outings, across June and July. Martinez has pitched much better at Busch Stadium than on the road in 2018, so that factor will be on his side. In nine home starts, Martinez has a 2.68 ERA in 50 13 frames.

The 28-year-old, left-handed Anderson enters Monday with a 2.12 ERA with 48 strikeouts over his last seven starts for the Rockies. This season, Anderson has lowered his HR/9 rate notably, down to 1.26 from 1.67 in 2017. Anderson will be making his team-leading 22nd start of the season and the second of his career against the Cardinals.

On Tuesday, Jack Flaherty will share the mound with Jon Gray in a game that has a 7:15 PM start time. Flaherty has worked five innings in each of his last three starts and will look to go beyond that as he faces Colorado for the first time in his career. Walks have been a recent issue for Flaherty; over his last 17 innings, Flaherty has walked 11 batters. In the previous 68 innings, Flaherty had 19 walks.

Gray enters Tuesday with back-to-back starts of at least seven innings and three of those in his last four outings. That trend is quite a bit different than what he has done against St. Louis. In a pair of starts that have totaled 8 13 innings, Gray has an 11.88 ERA. On the road in 2018, Gray has a 58:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in nine starts.

Wednesday’s contest is set to feature Luke Weaver and Kyle Freeland in another 7:15 PM start. Three of Weaver’s last four starts have been quality, and his month of July (four starts) was his best of the season thus far: 24 IP, 8 ER, 21 K, 7 BB, 1.13 WHIP. Back on 9/21/2016, the eighth game of his career, Weaver started against the Rockies at Coors Field. Nolan Arenado helped end his outing at two innings by hitting a two-out grand slam.

Freeland leads the Rockies’ pitching staff in a few categories, including ERA (3.13) and innings (126 2/3). Batters are slashing just .273/.307/.374 off Freeland this year, his second as a full-time starter in Colorado’s rotation. The lefty Freeland has not faced the Cardinals in his career.

Thursday’s series finale is an afternoon affair, one that will start at 12:15 PM. Miles Mikolas and Antonio Senzatela will toe the rubber. Mikolas has a 3.15 ERA over his last seven outings, including five quality starts, three against division opponents - the Brewers, Reds, and Cubs. As a member of the Padres in 2012, Mikolas faced the Rockies twice - the first times (and last times) he has opposed the Colorado club. That’ll change Thursday, as the Rockies look to put Mikolas’s 2.09 home ERA to their test.

Senzatela has worked primarily out of the bullpen for the Rockies this season, with only four of his 14 games coming as a starting pitcher. Senzatela worked at Triple-A from late May until early July, when the Rockies promoted him. Since then, Senzatela has exclusively started. Senzatela has made two starts in his career against the Cardinals, including eight scoreless innings back in May of 2017.