Tonight is the start of a four-game set between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rockies swept the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend and the Diamondbacks lost two of three to the San Diego Padres. Going into the Padres series they were on a 12-game winning streak, including sweeps against Los Angeles and Colorado.
Let’s take a look at the starting pitchers for each game.
Game 1 Freeland vs. Greinke
In Kyle Freeland’s first season, he’s putting together a very serviceable year. Freeland has struck out left-handers at a 35.9 percent clip since the all-star break, 3rd most in the MLB. Not only has he been great against lefties, Freeland has done well against right-handed hitters. Righties have a groundball rate of 61.9 percent against Freeland, 8th best in the MLB. The Rockies starter continues to throw his slider regularly — 40 percent since the all-star break. He will need to keep the right-handed hitter groundball trend going to keep high impact righties Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez in the yard at Chase Field..
This year, Zack Greinke is the ace that the Diamondbacks were looking for when they signed him prior to last season. He needs to put together another great performance to help Arizona maintain its lead over Colorado to start this four-game set. Right-handed batters are hitting only .125 against Greinke in the past 30 days. When they have put the ball in play during that time frame, righties have a groundball rate of 71.9 percent, 3rd best in the MLB. The third time through the order is where many starters start to struggle, but Greinke has continued to perform admirably late in the game. Over the last 30 days, Greinke has allowed a slugging percentage of .286 when going through the lineup a third time, 9th best in the MLB.
Game 2 Gray vs. Walker
Jon Gray’s stress fracture in his foot sidelined him for a chunk of the 2017 season. Now healthy, Gray looks to help the Rockies down the stretch. Opponents are clobbering the high fastball against Gray (.414), but he’s shut down left-handed hitters. Lefties are slugging just .234 in the last 30 days, 8th in the MLB. In the last 30 days, when Gray is behind in the count he’s allowed an OPS of just .668, 7th best in the MLB. That is due in large part to his blistering fastball, which has averaged 96.4 MPH the last 30 days, 4th highest among qualified pitchers. Along with the fastball, Gray’s other pitches have also been effective. Gray has allowed a slugging percentage of .224 on non-fastballs in his last 30 days, 15th best in the MLB. Gray is finally healthy and will have his hands full with a powerful offense in Arizona.
Taijuan Walker was traded from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason and has slotted into the Diamondbacks rotation with no hiccups. When Walker has gotten into trouble over the last 30 days, he’s been able to work out of it. He’s allowed a meager .103 batting average against with runners in scoring position (RISP), 1st in the MLB. When Walker has worked deep into games, he’s been difficult to square up or get on base against. Walker has allowed an OBP of .179 when going through the lineup for the third time in a game, 2nd best in the MLB. Division opponents have a tough time against Walker, only hitting .200 since the all-star break, T-17th best in the MLB.
Game 3 Marquez vs. Corbin
German Marquez has been able to shut down opposing lineups by limiting the heart of the order. Since the All-Star break, the 3-4-5 hitters own an OBP of .224, well below the league average of .342. When hitters are swinging, they haven’t had much luck either, carrying a .182 BABIP. The Rockies may be wise to utilize their expanded September roster and limit Marquez’ innings, however. The third time through the lineup, batters are slugging .838 against him over the last 30 days, which ranks 2nd worst in baseball over that span.
Patrick Corbin has been pitching better in the second half the season with a 3.34 ERA after posting a 4.71 ERA in the first half. He’s done so by shutting down left-handed batters, striking them out at a rate of 30.1 percent (8th in MLB), and utilizing his slider. Since the All-Star break, he has thrown his slider 51.1 percent of the time to left-handers (most in MLB), and recorded 76.6 percent of his strikeouts to lefties on sliders (2nd in MLB). Unfortunately for Corbin, the Rockies stack the right-handed box against left-handed starters, and own an .822 OPS versus southpaws. In Corbin’s last start, 13 of 22 right handed batters reached base.
Game 4 Bettis vs. Godley
Chad Bettis battled and beat cancer after being diagnosed in November of 2016, and now makes his 7th start of the season after his miraculous return. Bettis thrives on generating weak contact, living on the corners and getting hitters to chase bad pitches. Left-handed batters have a chase rate of 41.1 percent, first in all of baseball, and the swing rate at his off-speed pitches is 2nd in baseball at 59.1 percent. Unfortunately for Bettis, he has little room for error. If he leaves pitches over the plate, batters are slugging .709, and his swing and miss rate on fastballs is only 7.3 percent, 2nd worst among SP’s in MLB. If Bettis is able to stay ahead of hitters and keep the Diamondbacks off balance, he should have success. He has yet to walk a single batter against divisional opponents this year.
Zack Godley has quietly been one of the better starters in 2017, utilizing his rare talent of inducing groundballs and piling up strikeouts. His groundball rate of 57.9 percent ranks 9th in the majors, which helps keep his opponent’s batting average down to .211. Since the All-Star break, he has ramped up the strikeouts with a 39.3 percent swing-and-miss rate with two strikes and a 54.1 percent K-rate, ranking 1st and 6th respectively. Fatigue may become a factor down the stretch, as Godley has already reached his professional high for innings pitched and he has thrown over 100 pitches in each of his last 7 starts.
D-Backs Hitters – What are you waiting for?
- D-Backs hitters are batting .465 and slugging .965 on the first pitch over the last 30 days (Rank: 1st of 30 in MLB; League Average .346/.584).
- Diamondbacks hitters have 47 Extra-Base hits out of 103 total hits (45.6%) against right-handed relievers since the All-Star Break (Rank: 1st of 30 in MLB; League Avg: 35.1%).
D-Backs Pen – Weak link
- Fernando Rodney’s fastball is not what it once was, only generating 2.6% swings and misses in the last 30 days (Rank: Last in MLB; League Avg: 19.8%).
- Diamondbacks relievers have allowed an OBP of .374 (77/206) vs right-handed batters over the last 30 days (Rank: 28th of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .320).
- Left-handed batters are hitting .213 against Diamondbacks relievers (30-for-141) over the last 30 days (Rank: 4th of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .254).
Rockies Hitters – Strong on the road
- Rockies hitters have an OPS of .847 (933 PAs) with runners on base since the All-Star Break (Rank: 1st of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .772).
- Rockies hitters have an OPS of .802 (434 PAs) on the road over the last 30 days (Rank: 3rd of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .741).
- Rockies hitters have an OBP of .351 versus RHP over the last 30 days (Rank: 4th of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .326).
Rockies Pen – Shutting down righties
- Rockies relievers have allowed an OPS of just .587 (240 PAs) vs right-handed batters over the last 30 days (Rank: 2nd of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .741).
- Opponents are hitting .131 against Rockies relievers (25-for-191) with two strikes over the last 30 days (Rank: 1st of 30 in MLB; League Avg: .173).
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