The Colorado Rockies (50-38, 3rd in the NL West) will head into the All-Star Break after this weekend’s home series against the Chicago White Sox (37-47, last in the AL Central). The break will be a relief from what has been a nightmarish two weeks. Incredibly, the Rockies still hold a six and a half game lead on the Chicago Cubs for the second and final Wild Card spot, so despite their poor play of late they remain in good position to make the playoffs. The Rockies have to hope they can come out of this homestand with a winning record to build some momentum heading into the second half of the season.
After splitting a home series against the worst road team in baseball, the Cincinnati Reds, the Rockies face another team that has struggled on the road. Over their last 21 road games the White Sox are 6-15 and have won just one road series in their last seven. Their struggles have led to trade discussions involving almost all their veteran players so the Rockies may be one of the last teams to face the White Sox as they are currently constructed.
A couple of the veterans the White Sox may be looking to move are Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier, both of whom have hit well of late. Cabrera has hit .345 with three homeruns over the last two weeks while Frazier has hit four bombs in that timespan. Jose Abreu and 2017 All-Star Avisail Garcia have been two of the cornerstones on offense this season but Garcia has really struggled over the last few weeks and is dealing with a knee injury. Overall, the White Sox offense falls in the middle of the pack in most categories although they have had more success on the road than at home this season.
Starting Pitching Notes
The Rockies will face three lefties this weekend in Derek Holland, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Holland has been wildly inconsistent for the White Sox this year but he’s been worse on the road where his 5.88 FIP is the tenth highest in all of baseball. Quintana really struggled to start the season but ever since the start of June he has put up a 2.34 ERA although he has walked fourteen batters in his 34 innings during that time span. Finally, Rodon makes just his third start of the season on Sunday after missing most of the first half with a biceps injury. He’s been dominant so far and induced 26 swings and misses in his last start so he has his stuff working right now.
Through May 31 the White Sox bullpen owned a 2.38 ERA, the third best mark in baseball. Their K/9, BB/9, and K/BB rate all ranked in the top ten in the league. Since the start of June, the White Sox bullpen has had the fifth highest ERA (5.08) and rank in the bottom ten of all the aforementioned categories. The only difference in the bullpen is Nate Jones going down in mid-June but that doesn’t explain the shocking downturn the White Sox bullpen has experienced. Baseball is weird.
The White Sox are second to last in baseball with a .978 fielding percentage. On the fielding percentage leader board, three White Sox players rank in the bottom ten league wide among qualified players. Aside from the White Sox, only the Tampa Bay Rays have more than one player in the bottom fifteen. When looking at the fielding percentage leaderboards by position, the White Sox have a bottom five fielding player at pitcher (Quintana), first base (Abreu), third base (Frazier), shortstop (Tim Anderson), and right field (Garcia). It’s a bad defensive team.
Offensive help is on the way! Gerardo Parra could be activated as soon as Friday night after a three-game rehab assignment. Chad Bettis continues to make steady progress and will soon be ready to begin a rehab assignment before rejoining the Rockies presumably as a starter. The Rockies are only three games back of the Diamondbacks for the first Wild Card spot due to the 4-6 record Arizona has over their last ten games.
The Rockies get another team that has been struggling on the road but after the poor showing by the offense and the bullpen in the last series, confidence must be lacking right now. Fortunately, Gerardo Parra’s return may give the lineup a boost as the Rockies look to end the first half on a high note. The key for the offense will be patience, especially against Quintana and Rodon. Both guys tend to struggle with command so if the Rockies can take a good approach against them, they can run the pitch counts up and get to the struggling bullpen faster.
Probable Pitchers and Schedule
Friday, July 7 @ 6:40 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Derek Holland (5-8, 4.52 ERA) vs. German Marquez (5-4, 4.41 ERA)
Saturday, July 8 @ 7:10 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Jose Quintana (4-8, 4.45 ERA) vs. Jeff Hoffman (5-1, 4.01 ERA)
Sunday, July 9 @ 1:10 pm MT (ROOT Sports, 850KOA/94.1)
Carlos Rodon (1-1, 1.59 ERA) vs. Kyle Freeland (8-7, 4.09 ERA)