August 5, 2010

Series Preview: Colorado Rockies

After losing 6-2 to the Pirates last Wednesday, the Rockies were 51-50 and in fourth place prompting many in baseball to say they should trade their stars at the deadline. But in the balanced National League, a week can make a big difference in a pennant race. Colorado has won five of six now and at 56-51 began the day 5.5 back of wild card leader San Francisco, 6.5 behind division leader San Diego and only needing to pass one of those teams for a playoff spot.

The Rockies are hoping this is one of their patented late season surges like the ones that took them to the 2007 and 2009 playoffs. With their bats hot and a healthy pitching staff for the first time all year, Colorado is no doubt looking at this four game series with the Pirates like a chance to wear a cowboy hat downtown in a major city, and that is something Colorado likes. To your right is a picture of the Rocky Mountains that I stole from Paul Maholm's Twitter.

We miss Ubaldo Jimenez this series but will not miss the Colorado offense, now second in the NL in scoring. The attack is led by shortstop Troy Tulowitzski (.308/.375/.508) and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (.319/.349/.559). Gonzalez is absolutely red hot with six home runs in seven games, two of which came when the teams played last week in Denver. CarGo is being looked at as a breakout star by the national media but he actually put up close to the same numbers last year before his season was cut short by injury.

Colorado Rockies - Thursday 7:05, Friday 7:05, Saturday 7:05, Sunday 1:35
James McDonald (0-1, 8.22) makes his Pirates debut tonight in one of the more intriguing starts of the year. James spent almost all of 2009 with the Dodgers as a solid middle reliever, helping them to another NLCS appearance, and was rewarded with a demotion to the minors in 2010 and then a trade after two bad games. He is only 25 and still has a 4.11 career major league ERA which is better than any of the Pirates' other starters. The Rockies will counter with Jeff Francis (4-3, 4.44) who is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA over his last three starts despite missing the Pirates series. McDonald has good stuff and a high strikeout rate and with the benefit of a pitchers' park should stop the Rockies' bats. My pick is the Pirates.

Friday, Jason Hammel (7-6, 4.37) faces the Pirates' Zach Duke (5-10, 5.36). Duke has gone 8-18 with a 5.28 ERA since his All-Star appearance which is really helping the team by decreasing his salary value in arbitration. Also Duke is a big game pitcher and there's no bigger game than the only bobblehead night of the year. My pick is the Pirates.

Saturday, Jorge De La Rosa (4-3, 5.01) faces Ross Ohlendorf (1-9, 4.41). De La Rosa's windup has a huge hitch in it and overall is so annoying to watch that last week the Pirates were forced to have men on base all the time against him to avoid seeing it. I think that trend will continue, thus my pick is the Pirates.

Sunday, Paul Maholm (7-9, 4.59) faces Jhoulys Chacin (5-8, 4.04). The 22-year-old Chacin has a hittable fastball but mixes it with some of the best breaking stuff in the league, giving him 89 strikeouts in 82 innings, so of course the Rockies moved him to the bullpen. But then manager Jim Tracy never received the new issue of People so he was reading about the Rockies online and realized Chacin is his second best pitcher, so he's making this start. Nevertheless, my pick is the Pirates.

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