Welcome to baseball’s most confusing team. I’m by no means someone who likes when a team rebuilds. Fans underestimate the difficulty it takes to build a team from essentially nothing to relevance, especially a team with the resources of the Rockies. However, if ever a team needed to tear it all down and start from scratch, it’s this team. They are stuck in a perpetual state of not quite mediocrity. The Rockies are the last bastion of old school baseball: they are the rare team that is bad on accident. They intend to be good. But they just aren’t.
And they don’t seem to understand how to get back to being good. They are a very weirdly run team. They don’t make it easy for their prospects to crack the MLB roster. Few teams elicit “wait why did they do that?” more often than the Rockies, whether it’s signing Ian Desmond, signing Kris Bryant, extending Ryan McMahon to a hefty deal, or extending a 37-year-old closer instead of trading him.
But alas, you want to know about the current team. The current team is in last place in the NL West, which is partially their fault, partially a ridiculous division. But one massive, important thing to know about the Rockies: they are good at home. No matter how badly they do in the standings, they always seem to have a winning record at home: this year, it’s 30-27. So they are no cakewalk at Coors Field. It’s a trap series essentially. Do not mark these games as wins. Rockies players play their best at home.
As far as their lineup is concerned, their outfield is shockingly bad. Charlie Blackmon is still around (and has a player option for next year), providing marginally above replacement production. Recently acquired and former Cardinal Randal Grichuk has been below replacement, however he does have a 142 wRC+ since July 11th, so we seem to be catching him when he’s out. Sam Hilliard, also below replacement, is at left field. Against lefties, we’ll see Yonathan Daza, also barely above replacement level this year.
In the infield, CJ Cron is above average, Ryan McMahon is above average (not with his bat, but his glove seems to be very good), and Brendan Rodgers is above average. Mercenary Jose Iglesias is also having a good season. And we’ll also see former Cards prospect Elehuris Montero who has a 90 wRC+ with a 36.8 K% and 1.8 BB% so that should be interesting. The infield as not been the problem. The Rockies bullpen seems to be neither be a strength nor a weakness. Bard has been great. That’s about it for greatness, but everyone is more or less okay. Austin Gomber is now in the bullpen evidently.
Onto the matchups
Tuesday - 7:40 PM
Miles Mikolas (2.92 ERA/3.68 FIP/3.84 xFIP) vs. Ryan Feltner (5.75 ERA/4.51 FIP/3.84 xFIP)
In four of his eight starts, Feltner has given up at least 4 earned runs. In one of the others, he gave up three earned runs in 3.2 IP. So from an earned run perspective, he has not been good as a starter. You’ll notice the xFIP, although I’m not sure how useful that is when you play half your games at Coors. Interestingly, of his seven homers allowed, just two were at Coors. Although just three of his games have been at Coors, one of which was a 3.1 IP relief appearance.
Meanwhile, Mikolas’ contact heavy approach could be dangerous at Coors. Homers are not the only thing that makes Coors a hitter’s park. More balls find holes, more balls become doubles, and when you’re not a strikeout guy, that could lead to some rallies. Hopefully, Mikolas can be fairly groundball heavy, which of course can also lead to hits, but would limit the damage.
My pick: Cardinals
Wednesday - 7:40 PM
Jose Quintana (3.39 ERA/3.27 FIP/3.73 xFIP) vs. Kyle Freeland (4.56 ERA/4.23 FIP/4.43 xFIP)
To give you an idea of how Coors Field impacts pitcher’s stats, Freeland is easily on pace for an above average season by fWAR. This is true both by FIP based WAR and runs allowed WAR. Freeland though is left-handed, and the Cardinals are 2nd in baseball with a 120 wRC+ against LHP this season. So Freeland is going to have his work cut out for him.
Meanwhile, as much as one can have a sneaky difficult matchup at Coors, Quintana has one. The Rockies have been a slightly above average hitting team against LHP, while being an awful offensive team against RHP. And seeing as they are also at home, where they are significantly better, it’s not the easiest matchup for Quintana. Not quite the same as facing the Cubs (I should randomly take stray shots at the Cubs in unrelated team previews more often).
My pick: Cardinals
Thursday - 2:10 PM
Dakota Hudson (4.20 ERA/4.58 FIP/4.92 xFIP) vs. German Marquez (5.18 ERA/4.75 FIP/4.00 xFIP)
Well, this is not a particularly good matchup. Marquez has had his struggles - for some reason he’s not striking out as many hitters this year - but his underlying stats are not too far from his typical self. I would 100 percent want the Cardinals to take a chance on him if I wasn’t also 100 percent aware that the Rockies don’t normally trade their own players. In this particular case, they are absolutely right not to do it, but nonetheless I’d like to see Marquez away from Coors.
Hudson meanwhile, well, I’ll say this. His groundball heavy approach could work at Coors. The whole walking batters thing will not. But as I said with Mikolas, if you limit the damage to singles, it improves your chances of success. That said, I like Marquez too much as a pitcher and have too little faith in Hudson to go anyone but
My pick: Rockies
Individual Game Record: 25-24
Series Prediction Record: 6-9
Let’s hope I’m 6-10 after the Cardinals keep the winning streak alive when they exit Colorado on Thursday.