The Colorado Rockies (52-39, 3rd in the NL West) will come out of the All-Star break with a trip to Citi Field and the New York Mets (39-47, 4th in the NL East). The Mets have had a hard year thus far and they have been talked about as sellers in this year’s trade market. However, because of the overwhelming amount of injuries they’ve suffered, they’ll probably want to hoard many of their assets and start from scratch in 2018, hoping to stay healthy. There is a lot of talent on this roster even if it hasn’t shown up this year.
As for the Rockies, they are considered buyers this season. There has been a lot of speculation about what the Rockies intend to do and conventional wisdom seems to point to bullpen help, but adding another piece on offense may help push the club over the top. This weekend’s series will be a big test to the offense that (finally) broke out of their cold spell by scoring 26 runs at home against the Chicago White Sox prior to the break. The hope is that they can carry that momentum into New York but they have a tough slate ahead of them in a pitcher friendly ballpark.
Starting Pitching Notes
The Rockies will face Jacob deGrom, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz this weekend. deGrom’s 3.65 ERA is significantly higher than in any other season in his career. The Rockies would be wise not to take deGrom lightly however, as he’s actually had his best season in terms of strikeout rate, groundball rate, contact rate, and whiff rate. The number that has hurt him is his 18 home runs allowed, three more than he allowed all of last season. However, his expected home runs, based on his batted ball profile, sits at 11.7 meaning he has suffered from a lot of bad luck in that department.
Lugo and Matz both missed the first two months of the season and only recently returned to pick up a pitching staff that had struggled to a 29th ranked 1.49 WHIP and a 27th ranked 4.99 ERA. Things have improved since then for the Mets rotation and it’s no coincidence. Having Matz and Lugo back was a big boost and the Rockies will have their work cut out for them with this group.
The Mets bullpen has been as bad, if not worse than their starting rotation. Jeurys Familia, their closer, has been on the DL since May 11 and the only guy in the pen with better than a 3.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP is his replacement Addison Reed. Reed is the only thing keeping this bullpen from ranking dead last in every statistical category. It’s been a bad year for pitching in Queens.
The Mets offense has been the bright spot in an otherwise dismal season thus far. They rank 11th in the league in wOBA and 8th in wRC+. Their best player to date has been Michael Conforto who, after being under-utilized a year ago, has finally been given the opportunity to show the league why he was a top ten pick a few years ago.
The biggest problem for the Mets offense this season has been their many injuries. Conforto just recently returned from a ten-day absence, Yoenis Cespedes missed all of May with a hamstring injury that may still be lingering, Neil Walker is currently on the DL with a hamstring issue, Lucas Duda missed twenty games with an elbow injury, and Asdrubal Cabrera has already had two stints on the DL this season. It’s been a tough injury year for the Mets but remarkably the offense has been productive through it all and right now they are nearly at full strength.
The Mets have not been good on defense this season. Their -22 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) is sixth worst in baseball and they rank in the bottom ten in fielding percentage as well. Shortstop has been a huge problem for them defensively as Mets shortstops have compiled a league-worst DRS of -15, six runs worse than the next team on the list.
The Rockies currently sit just two games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the top Wild Card spot. Chad Bettis pitched well in his first rehab start last night for the Hartford Yard Goats, going two innings, striking out three and not allowing a walk or a hit. David Dahl started a rehab assignment on Wednesday with the Lancaster JetHawks. In two games so far he has two singles, a home run and a walk.
The Rockies offense will have a tough challenge on the road this weekend. It’s a good test for them but one that may further emphasize the need to add a bat prior to the trade deadline. The offense really needs to stay on track here because if they can get through the starters, they should be able to beat the bullpen. As in the White Sox series, the Rockies must focus on having a good approach at the plate. Make the starters throw a lot of pitches and run them early.
The Rockies will run out Jon Gray, Tyler Chatwood, and Jeff Hoffman. That is a stellar trio on the road and should allow the offense to do its work without having to mount a big comeback. This will be a telling series for the Rockies as they look to separate themselves even further from the pack for the final Wild Card spot.
Probable Pitchers and Schedule
Friday, July 14 @ 5:10 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Jon Gray (2-0, 3.75 ERA) vs. Jacob deGrom (9-3, 3.65 ERA)
Saturday, July 15 @ 5:10 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Tyler Chatwood (6-10, 4.42 ERA) vs. Seth Lugo (3-2, 4.59 ERA)
Sunday, July 16 @ 11:10 am MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Jeff Hoffman (5-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (2-2, 3.05 ERA)