The Colorado Rockies (48-36, 3rd in the NL West) will return home tonight from what felt like a very long road trip to start a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds (35-46, last in the NL Central). The Rockies went 1-8 on their trip out West while averaging under three runs per game, so coming home to Coors Field will be a relief. The Rockies and Reds have played each other already this season, and the Rockies won that series in Cincinnati 2-1 while outscoring the Reds 26-22 in the three game set.
The Reds come into the series after winning two out of three against the Cubs in Cincinnati over the weekend. They are 5-5 overall in their last 10 games, which is encouraging for this ball club that has struggled mightily for much of the season. The place that the Reds have struggled most, however, is anywhere not named Great American Ballpark. The Reds have 12 road wins this year, which places them dead last in the category among all major-league teams. In their last 16 road games they are 2-14.
The Reds have been carried all season by the formidable trio of Joey Votto, Zack Cozart, and Adam Duvall. Cozart was out for a large portion of June with a quad injury, but he returned to the lineup over the weekend. Votto, Duvall, and Scooter Gennett have all been hot over the last two weeks; each has hit over .350, and they’ve combined for 11 home runs in twelve games. The Reds have stolen 69 bases this year, which ranks fourth in baseball. As an offense, they are in the top ten in terms of wOBA and wRC+. This is a good offense. The only issues they’ve had have come on the road, where only one regular, Jose Peraza, is hitting over .300.
Starting Pitching Notes
We have come to the reason for the Reds unsightly record. Starting pitching has been a huge problem for Cincinnati this season. Here are the categories in which the Reds starting pitchers rank last or second to last in all of baseball: ERA (6.16), WHIP (1.55), BB/9 (4.01), HR/9 (2.2), WAR (-1.3). That’s right—the Reds starters have a negative WAR. No other team in baseball has a starting pitching WAR of less than 2.0, so the Reds starters have been just awful this year.
In this series the Rockies will face two guys in Homer Bailey and Luis Castillo who will be starting just their third game of the season. Bailey has been injured for what feels like his entire career, and Castillo is a prospect who came over from the Miami Marlins in the Dan Straily deal this past offseason. The Rockies will also face Scott Feldman, who has been the only starter to put up an ERA less than 4.00 for the Reds this year and a starter not yet announced. The Reds have gone through thirteen starters already this year.
This bullpen has thrown 324 innings already this year, by far the most in baseball. The next team on the list is the Baltimore Orioles at 299 innings. That means Reds relievers have thrown almost three full games worth of innings more than any other team in baseball. Raisel Iglesias, their closer, is easily the best arm on the team.
The Reds are an excellent defensive team. Billy Hamilton in center field and Peraza at second base are the highlights on defense. They both make a lot of great plays and commit very few errors. The whole team is solid defensively and they trail only the Rockies in fielding percentage in the National league.
Carlos Gonzalez is expected to return tonight for the Rockies. Ian Desmond had to exit Sunday’s game with a cramp but the injury doesn’t seem serious, so he shouldn’t be sidelined for more than a few days. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, and Greg Holland will represent the National League in the All-Star Game. Gerardo Parra will be evaluated today, and if all goes well he will look to rejoin the team prior to the All-Star break.
It’s been a really tough stretch for the Rockies, who are 1-10 in their last eleven games. Coors Field will be a welcome sight, as will the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff. The Reds have mustered only twelve wins on the road this year, and the Rockies must capitalize. This series against one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball is the perfect opportunity for the Rockies offense to break out and gain some confidence. The Rockies pitching staff will have to hold down a potent offense, but hopefully the bats heat up enough to give them some breathing room in these four games.
Probable Pitchers and Schedule:
Monday, July 3 @ 6:10 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Luis Castillo (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Jeff Hoffman (4-1, 4.04 ERA)
Tuesday, July 4 @ 6:10 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Homer Bailey (0-2, 27.00 ERA) vs. Kyle Freeland (8-6, 3.84 ERA)
Wednesday, July 5 @ 6:40 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Scott Feldman (7-5, 3.78 ERA) vs. Jon Gray (1-0, 3.93 ERA)
Thursday, July 6 @ 1:10 pm MT (No TV, 850KOA/94.1)
TBD vs. Tyler Chatwood (6-9, 4.41 ERA)