Friday, August 28, 2015

Next Up: The Colorado Rockies

On Monday, I wrote, previewing the Pirates' next ten games:
With the Pirates playing ten games against three of the worst teams in the league at the same time the Cardinals play ten against teams with winning records (the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Nationals), there's an opportunity for the Pirates to pick up ground heading into a Labor Day weekend matchup in St. Louis.
Well, that plan's been only half successful. The Pirates did indeed take three of four from the Miami Marlins, but the seemingly unstoppable Cardinals went to Phoenix and took four straight from a Diamondbacks team that had been on an 18-9 run. The Pirates now host the Rockies, with the third worst record in baseball, for three games while the Cardinals face the Giants, who trail the Dodgers by 2.5 in the West and the Cubs by 5.5 for the second wild card.

How Are They Doing Lately? Over the last 30 days, the Rockies are 8-19, tying them with the Braves for the worst record in the National League. Despite playing in the best hitters' park in the majors, they've scored only 4.1 runs per game over the last 30 days, the sixth lowest total in the league, while giving up 6.0 per game, easily the most. They're 9-19 since trading shortstop/franchise icon Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays on July 28.

What's Going Right? Rockies pitchers are never as bad as their raw numbers, as they have the handicap of playing half their games in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors. Adjusted for their home park, their starters' ERA is fifth worst in the league over the past 30 days, and the relievers' ERA is second worse. That's not good, of course, but it's better than their unadjusted ERA.

What's Going Wrong? One Rockies batters are in the middle of the National League pack in slugging percentage over the past 30 days, at .417, but they've been hurt by an inability to get on base. The team's .295 on base percentage is the worst in the league over the past 30 days, the only team below .300. They've walked the least frequently and struck out the second most frequently in the league, swinging at 34% of pitches outside the strike zone, the second most in the league. The starting pitchers' ERA over the past 30 days is 5.89. Only the Phillies have been worse. Sort of the mirror image of the hitters, Rockies starters have struck out batters at the third-lowest rate and walked them at the sixth-highest rate. The relievers have been worse, with a league-worst 6.24 ERA, the lowest strikeout rate in the league, and by far and away the highest walk rate. Rockies relievers have issued free passes to 15% of the batters they've faced over the last 30 days. The next worst  team, the Marlins, are below 10%. The Rockies bullpen has four saves and six blown saves in the past 30 days. 

Who's Hot? Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez has put on a slugging show of late, leading the Rockies with ten homers, 20 RBI, 18 runs scored, a .337 on base percentage, and a .630 slugging percentage over the past 30 days. The Pirates will face the Rockies' most dependable starter of late, Jorge de la Rosa, on Sunday. Over his past five starts, he has a 3.41 ERA. Highly-touted rookie Jonathan Gray has his fifth start tonight. In his first three starts--all no-decisions--he compiled a 2.40 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 innings, but he was lit up for seven runs in an inning and two thirds against the Mets last Friday.

Who's Not? The Rockies got shortstop Jose Reyes in the trade for Tulo, and he's struggled with a .258 batting average and .284 on base percentage since coming over. He's also been caught stealing in half of his eight attempts. The team's most successful base stealer is center fielder Charlie Blackmon, with eight steals over the past 30 days, though he's been successful in 62% of his attempts, negating his swipes. Slick-fielding third baseman Nolan Arenado, first baseman Ben Paulsen, and catcher Nick Hundley join Reyes among regulars with on base percentages below .300 over the past 30 days. Over the past 30 days, the team's six most frequently used relievers have combined for a 7.30 ERA and have walked 16% of the batters they've faced; the league average is a 3.91 ERA and an 8% walk rate.

What's the Outlook? Playing the Rockies at altitude in Coors Field is said to mess up visiting hitters' and pitchers' timing. Hosting Colorado at PNC Park entails no such risk. (The Pirates visit Denver in September.) Picking up ground on the division-leading Cardinals, whom the Pirates trail by 4.5 games, is a tall order, though, as long as the Redbirds keeping winning every damn game they play.

No comments:

Post a Comment