The Rockies come home to Coors Field this weekend on the heels of an impressive series split against the Milwaukee Brewers. Their wins Tuesday and Wednesday were important in that they finally punched back against a team that has owned them lately, and they turned their seven game road-trip into a success with a 4-3 record.
Now they come home to the challenge of acclimating back to the altitude. They will do so against familiar divisional foes, starting with their first games in 2019 against the Arizona Diamondbacks followed by series with the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres.
Let’s take a look at what’s coming and what might be important for this nine-game home stand.
Lots of tough opposing pitchers
Such is life in the NL West, but the tough match-ups are especially stacked up in the Arizona and San Francisco series.
The Rockies have had success against Robbie Ray in the past, so hopefully they can carry their offensive momentum right over into that series. Ray will be followed by Luke Weaver and Zack Greinke.
Weaver and Greinke are two pitchers who can dominate on any given night, and I’m always nervous to be too happy about facing Greinke, even if the Rockies have had success against him in the past. Arizona’s surly ace is off to a good start in 2019, with a 5-1 record and 3.27 ERA (137 ERA+).
Madison Bumgarner opens the series with the Giants. We know the story with him: he’s a very good pitcher and he’s also likely to try and start a fight. Bumgarner went seven innings against Colorado back on April 13, striking out seven and allowing two runs.
There’s no probable for game two of that set. Dereck Rodriguez is slated for the third game, and he has owned the Rockies in his young career (1.76 ERA in three games).
As for the Padres, they are projected to start with Eric Lauer, the club’s Opening Day starter. He’s followed by Joey Lucchesi and his unconventional lefty delivery. Lucchesi has struggled so far this year, but he could have a 15.00 ERA and I would still assume he’s going to dominate the Rockies.
Nick Margevicius is the final scheduled starter of the home stand. In his only start against the Rockies he struggled almost as much as the announcers struggled to pronounce his name. He allowed five earned runs in just four innings and was hit hard in the process.
The Rockies will come into this home stand feeling good about themselves, with a hot offense in its last two games led by its star hitters. But if there’s anything we’ve learned the last few years, this is the kind of run of opposing pitchers that could suddenly bring the offense to a halt, even at Coors Field.
Nolan is being Nolan
The series against the Brewers illustrated the nature of a baseball season beautifully. Things were awfully glum after the Rockies lost their third straight game on Tuesday. The offense was back in the toilet and the pitching was showing cracks at the wrong times. Then they won Wednesday and everything looked okay. Then they dominated Thursday and everything looked great.
This turnaround was keyed in large part by Arenado. He hit three home runs in two days and gave his team exactly the kind of jolt it needed. We know what he can do when he’s in the zone. That’s especially true against division opponents. If Arenado stays hot this weekend and into next week, that could go a long way to make it a successful home stand.
And the rest of the lineup looks good too
While we should acknowledge the possibility that the offense disappears again, that feels less likely because so many hitters suddenly look like they’re back on track.
Charlie Blackmon has recovered from a slow start to look like his usual self. Trevor Story has kept his production consistent and David Dahl continues to show the upside he brings to a lineup. Daniel Murphy is starting to drive the ball more. Even Tony Wolters threw out some key hits.
See how optimistic a couple good games will make you feel? Now let’s just hope that Raimel Tapia gets to start more than he doesn’t.
Keep the pressure off the bullpen
Concerns about a shallow bullpen have come to fruition so far this season. If it’s not Scott Oberg or Wade Davis, it’s hard to trust anybody coming out of the Colorado bullpen. Wait, I forgot about Bryan Shaw. Did you know he’s good again?!
Sometimes I hesitate to repeat myself about how bullpens are unpredictable, but then something happens like Bryan Shaw starting 2019 with a 0.95 ERA in 19 innings. Granted, Shaw has a terrifyingly low K/9 rate (3.3!), so let’s not get too excited just yet. And yeah, everyone else in the bullpen is pretty sketchy right now. Go starters go.
These are important games
Look, you can say that about any division game at any point during the season and you won’t be wrong. Let’s parse out the specifics for this Rockies team at the beginning of May.
The Rockies obviously got off to a bad start in the division when they got swept by the Dodgers. Then they lost three in a row to the Giants and were quickly 0-6 in the division.
They bounced back against the Padres, but they can’t afford to dig a much deeper hole by suddenly going in the tank this week. They need to fix that division record as they also fix their overall record. Speaking of which.
Imagine how good .500 will feel
Let’s say the Rockies go 6-3 over these nine games. That would make them 21-20. They were 3-12 at one point. It will be nothing to sneeze at if they get back over .500 by the first week of May. I say they just go ahead and do that, then. What say you?