The Colorado Rockies follow up a 3-6 homestand with a 4-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the biggest road trip of the season for the Rockies and the outcome may very well determine their ultimate fate. The Rockies sit two games ahead of the Cardinals and two and a half ahead of the Brewers for the final Wild Card spot. Of the three, the Rockies have the toughest schedule, but the Brewers and Cards both face the Cubs seven more times and will face off in the final series of the season.
Fortunately for the Rockies, they catch the Dodgers in their worst stretch of the season. The Dodgers are 1-11 in their last twelve games and were swept by the Diamondbacks twice in that span. Since the start of August, the Dodgers are 18-16 with a wRC+ of 88, good for 24th in baseball. In their previous series, they scored just two runs in three games against the D-Backs. Their pitching is what has saved them in this stretch as they sport a 3.72 xFIP, 2nd in all of baseball over that time span. The Rockies catch a break seeing an imperfect version of this Dodgers team and they must capitalize on it.
Since the beginning of August, the Dodgers have been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball. Their terrible offense rivals that of the Rockies, and that’s saying something. The biggest culprits in the collapse have been their second basemen Kike Hernandez (35 wRC+) and Chanse Utley (67 wRC+), and catcher Yasmani Grandal (75 wRC+). New addition Curtis Granderson also has just six hits (four of them home runs) in 72 plate appearances with a wRC+ of 53. Cody Bellinger’s recent return to the lineup after an ankle injury should help boost the offense but Corey Seager is dealing with an elbow injury and hasn’t started a game since August 27.
Starting Pitching Notes
When looking at starting pitching in the league, only one team comes close to the Dodgers and that is the Cleveland Indians. The Dodgers sit either first or second in a plethora of categories and typically they trail the Indians when they don’t lead. Their ERA (3.38), WHIP (1.16), xFIP (.371), K/BB (3.4), K% (25.2), strand rate (77.2%), and wOBA allowed (.291) all rank at the top of the National League. It’s frightening just thinking about having to face these guys. The Rockies will see Clayton Kershaw on Thursday. If you don’t already know about him this should clear it up. They get Yu Darvish on Friday. His work can be seen here. Alex Wood will face them on Saturday. He’s been pretty good this year. They’ll face Rich Hill on Sunday. He had a nice outing against the Pirates a couple weeks ago. The bottom line here is that the Rockies struggling offense will have a hard time righting the ship against this group.
The Dodgers bullpen has also been among the league’s best this year. They sport a 3.63 K/BB which, if the season ended today, would be the second best mark in baseball’s modern era. They are led by Kenley Jansen, one of the best relievers in baseball. His 13.71 K/BB rate is 1.71 points higher than the next guy on the list, Pat Neshek. He has been the one of the league’s most consistent relievers since 2011 and his 2.19 xFIP trails only Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Miller in that time span. The Dodgers went out and got Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani at the trade deadline to boost an already stacked pen and both have pitched well in Dodger blue. There is not a true weak link to be found in this group.
If you were hoping for a vulnerable spot, you won’t find it here. The Dodgers 43 DRS is good for second in baseball and their .985 fielding percentage is a top-10 mark in the league. Their best defender is Yasiel Puig with a DRS of 17 and a .996 fielding percentage in right field. He’s the standout player but aside from him, seven other players on the team have a positive DRS and the only player with more than six errors on the year is shortstop Corey Seager with ten.
During the first half of the year, the Rockies offense had a .391 wOBA (best in baseball) with a .510 slugging percentage (best) and a 108 wRC+ (8th) with runners in scoring position. In the second half, the Rockies have a .312 wOBA (21st) with a .385 slugging percentage (25th) and a 74 wRC+ (29th) in those situations. Jon Gray’s 3.02 FIP since August 1 is the ninth best mark in the league among starters during that span. Greg Holland has now thrown four straight perfect innings so hopefully he has figured things out, although just two strikeouts in those four innings is still a bit worrisome.
The Rockies have very little hope for a series win here. The fact of the matter is their offense barely has a pulse and they’re about to face the most dominant pitching staff in the National League. Fortunately, the Dodgers offense has been almost as bad as the Rockies lately so if the pitching staff can hold down the struggling offense, the Rockies may be able to eek out a series split. The Dodgers starters are tough but the Rockies are at least familiar with them. This is a very tough matchup at a bad time and a series split will likely be considered a success.
Probable Pitchers and Schedule
Thursday, September 7 @ 1:10 pm MT (ATT SportsNet, 850KOA/94.1)
Jon Gray (6-4, 4.26 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (16-2, 1.95 ERA)
Friday, September 8 @ 6:40 pm MT (ATT SportsNet, 850KOA/94.1)
German Marquez (10-6, 4.26 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (8-11, 4.09 ERA)
Saturday, September 9 @ 7:10 pm MT (ATT SportsNet, 850KOA/94.1)
Chad Bettis (0-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (14-2, 2.57 ERA)
Sunday, September 10 @ 2:10 pm MT (ATT SportsNet, 850KOA/94.1)
Tyler Chatwood (6-12, 4.88 ERA) vs. Rich Hill (9-7, 3.67 ERA)