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Chris Rusin to bounce back against J.A. Happ and the Pirates

Nowhere to go but up after Chris Rusin's last outing.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Bouncy. Bouncy is the word. I'm tasked with writing the game preview for every Saturday game. My regular writing schedule frequently overlaps with the Rockies' rotation. That means that I've written the preview for, I estimate, each of Rusin's starts in 2015. It feels like it, at least. The last two go-rounds had the same theme: Rusin looks to continue making his case for the Rockies rotation going forward. It sure looked that way. But in Rusin's last outing, all he did was post what might have been the worst start in Rockies' history. As I began filling in the headline for today's preview, I realized I was going to write something like "Rusin looks to rebound." Trying to think of a word that characterizes the jerky nature of pitching and writing about pitching by way of game previews, I settled on bouncy. Bouncy is the word.

It's no exaggeration that Rusin's last start was among the worst in Rockies history. Rusin's Game Score was -11, which matches the worst in Rockies history. The other was Bryan Rekar's April 28, 1996 start against the Expos. He pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed 11 runs on ten hits and four walks. Rekar didn't strike out a batter and allowed two home runs. Rusin allowed two more hits than Rekar, 12, and also allowed 11 runs. Rusin recorded one fewer out, walked two rather than four, and struck out three. Rusin allowed one home run. The other contender for worst start in Rockies history is Shawn Chacon's June 7, 2003 start against the Royals. Chacon gave up 12 runs, nine hits, and six walks in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two and allowed two home runs.

That brings me to today's bold prediction: Chris Rusin will have a better start today than his last start. It's also a good place to point out that Rusin's last outing will not have much bearing on his ability to compete for a rotation spot.

The Pirates send J.A. Happ to the mound to face the Rockies. The Pirates acquired Happ from the Mariners just before the July 31 trade deadline. He enters with a 4.21 ERA and a 3.84 FIP. By park adjusted measures, however, Happ has been ten percent worse than league average this season.

According to Baseball Savant, the current Rockies roster has a career .226 average against Happ in just 31 plate appearances. Rusin has faced the players on the Pirates roster a bit more. In 47 plate appearances, they have a career .319 batting average against.

Today's Lineups

COLORADO ROCKIES PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Charlie Blackmon - CF Gregory Polanco - RF
Jose Reyes - SS Josh Harrison - LF
Carlos Gonzalez - RF Andrew McCutchen - CF
Nolan Arenado - 3B Aramis Ramirez - 3B
DJ LeMahieu - 2B Jung-Ho Kang - SS
Ben Paulsen - 1B Francisco Cervelli - C
Nick Hundley - C Pedro Alvarez - 1B
Brandon Barnes - LF Neil Walker - 2B
Chris Rusin - LHP J.A. Happ - LHP