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Rockies, Dodgers bring top 2 NL pitching staffs into Coors Field series

If the Rockies are going to get the best of the red-hot Dodgers this weekend, they’ll have to do it with pitching.

The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers are about to start a four-game series that should be garnering a lot more attention than it is.

The Rockies (22-13) enter the series in sole possession of first place in the National League West, but the Dodgers aren’t far behind at 20-14. Following a 10-12 start, Los Angeles has rattled off 10 victories in its last 12 games behind an offense that has scored 10 or more runs on three separate occasions during that stretch and has been held below five runs the same amount of times.

The scary part is, it’s not just the bats that have been carrying the Dodgers; during that 12-game stretch, L.A.’s pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs eight times. The pitching staff as a whole owns a 2.65 ERA over the last couple of weeks, and only one pitcher who has made more than one appearance has an ERA over 3.60.

In short, the Rockies—despite playing at home—may not be able to score a lot of runs this weekend, so it will be up to the pitching staff to cool down the Dodgers’ bats. Fortunately, they’re no scrubs in that department themselves.

Colorado pitchers enter the series with a collective fWAR of 5.0, second in the NL behind only the Dodgers, and a park-adjusted ERA- of 83—again, behind only L.A. Both teams are well balanced in terms of production from starters and relievers, so there’s not a lot of respite for opposing hitters at any point in the game. Any advantage may come down to individual pitching matchups; Clayton Kershaw is on the mound for the Dodgers Friday opposite Tyler Chatwood, whose struggles at home are well documented, and the Rockies could start Jeff Hoffman—an experiencer of more failure than success during his short time at the big league level—on Saturday.

That could make it extra tough on the Rockies, who enter the series with the NL’s second-worst offense by fWAR and third-worst by wRC+. The good news is the Rox this season have already faced—and beaten—the likes of Kershaw and Thursday starter Hyun-jin Ryu, so they just need to repeat what they did in those contests, which came on April 8 and 7, respectively, in order to hang on to the top spot in the division.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Probable starting pitchers

Thursday: Hyun-jin Ryu (4.05 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9) vs. Tyler Anderson (6.69 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9)

Friday: Clayton Kershaw (2.40 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9) vs. Tyler Chatwood (4.74 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9)

Saturday: Alex Wood (2.73 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9) vs. Jeff Hoffman (Triple-A stats: 3.71 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.6 BB/9)

Sunday: Julio Urias (1.06 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 5.3 BB/9) vs. Antonio Senzatela (2.86 ERA, 4.9 K/9, 2.3 BB/9)

For more on the Dodgers, head to True Blue LA.