Rockies Series Preview

080811_-_rockies_mediumThe Rockies come to town today.  In many ways, the Rockies are a very similar team to the Reds.  Like the Reds, they are pretty much out of it, being 10 games behind the Giants (to the Reds' 9.5 games behind the Brewers).  Like the Reds, their overall record is substantially worse than their overall team stats indicate they "should be" (Rockies W% is 43 points behind their component winning percentage, Reds W% is 52 points behind their component W%).  And like the Reds, they have been something of a disappointment this year compared to where many (or at least I) expected them to be.

Their hitting numbers are almost exactly the same as the Reds', though they've done that while playing in Coors' field half of the time.  Great American Ballpark is a hitters' park, but it has nothing on Coors'.  Their starting pitching has matched up to the Reds fairly well on the season-level, although currently their rotation is absolutely ravaged by injuries and trades.  Finally, there's a lot of disagreement among the fielding metrics about the Rockies' fielding.  nFRAA has them way above the Reds, but otherwise they are rated as somewhere between average and well below average.  My favorite two stats right now are nFRAA and my own FIP-BsR, and an average of the two pegs the Rockies as pretty much average.  That's about the best I can do.

We'll see what happens on the field, but the Reds should be a pretty strong favorite in this series.  They have the better offense, better fielding, and the Rockies' rotation is in total shambles.

Position Players

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Welcome to David Sappelt!  I've been kind of slow to get on board the Sappelt train, but I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do.  My feeling is that his ceiling is a #3/#4 outfielder type, but that can have a lot of value.  I see him as having a bit less power and defensive value than Chris Heisey, but probably a bit better contact/on-base ability.  

Also worth noting for Reds: Drew Stubbs still has a 104 wRC+.  That means he's been slightly above league average as a hitter.  And plays at least average center field, which is a high bar.

The Rockies always seem to play musical chairs with their position players, but they've had a lot of trouble this year fielding a lineup.  They've had a very hard time luck finding production at second or third base this season, and their outfield has been a struggle from day 1.  Carlos Gonzalez is still a superb player, but hasn't been what he was last year.  Fowler is just up from the minors, and why Eric Young has been playing as much as he has is a complete mystery to me. Seth Smith should get at least one start against either Bailey or Leake, though, and has excellent power.  Also of note is Ty Wigginton, who sometimes has been a starter at third base (despite brutal fielding), and has hit well in bursts this season.

Probable Starters

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I was pretty high on Jason Hammel as an overlooked starter entering this year.  In 2009 and 2010 he has posted xFIPs of 3.66 and 3.76, respectively, with nice strikeout rates, excellent walk rates, and a good number of ground balls.  He did run into some apparently minor arm trouble at the end of last year, however, and really hasn't been the same since.  This year, his strikeout rates are way down and his walk rates are way up...and I'm just not sure what has happened to the guy.  Needless to say, I like Bailey quite a bit in this match-up (though I still wonder what the heck has happened to his strikeout rate!)

Rogers, on the other hand, entered the season as a replacement #5 starter, but at this point is probably their #3.  Ubaldo Jimenez was traded, the promising Juan Nicasio was hit by a line drive last week and broke his C1 vertebra (that's the one that connects the spine to the skull, also known as the atlas), Jorge De La Rosa had Tommy John Surgery, and Aaron Cook left his last start early due to muscle spasms.  It's just been brutal.  Cook could conceivably by the starter on Wednesday if his neck has calmed down, but otherwise we're likely looking at a call-up...maybe Clayton Mortensen?  I'm just speculating.

Bullpens

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While their outcomes haven't been as good as the Reds' pen, I like the Rockies' bullpen a lot.  They have a great trio of guys anchoring the pen in Street, Betancourt, and rookie lefty Rex Brothers that can shut you down at the end of a game.  And their middle relief looks pretty solid.  Shouts out to former Reds Matt Belisle (who I always liked, and had a fantastic year last year) and Josh Roenicke (of the Scott Rolen trade to Toronto).

But at least Aroldis Chapman has been throwing well.  Given where the season is for the Reds, I'm going to enjoy watching him pitch over the last couple of months!

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