The Rockies just finished what was supposed to be one of the softer stretches of their brutal second half schedule with a 2-5 home stand. It was a miserable stretch where nothing went right, and it was capped off with four consecutive losses against the Giants. Now, as the Rockies near game number 100, they head out on a critical, and very difficult, road trip.
Here’s what’s ahead.
At New York Yankees (62-33)
July 19: Kyle Freeland vs. J.A. Happ
July 20: Antonio Senzatela vs. Masahiro Tanaka
July 21: German Márquez vs. James Paxton
The Yankees have the best record by win percentage in all of baseball, so things aren’t going to start out easy. The biggest plus going in is the blessing of being away from Coors Field. The first two games look like the most winnable, as Happ and Tanaka are weaker pitchers than Paxton; however, success will also rely on Freeland returning to form and Senzatela turning in a quality start against a potent Yankees’ offense. The third game of the series will be a fantastic time for Márquez to find his form again. Paxton is striking out over 11 batters per nine innings, though he’s also been prone to walks. His adjusted 4.51 is higher than his 3.94 ERA.
At Washington Nationals (51-44)
July 22: Jon Gray vs. Erick Fedde
July 23: Peter Lambert vs. Stephen Strasburg
July 24: Kyle Freeland vs. Patrick Corbin
July 25: Antonio Senzatela vs. ??
The Nationals currently hold the top Wild Card spot in the National League. The Rockies are 5.5 games behind them right now. The Rockies will have an opportunity here to make up some ground on a Wild Card contender.
The probably pitchers haven’t been announced yet, but we have a good idea of how things should unfold. The starters the Nationals will send are more up in the air. Based on the rotation as of now, there is one uncertainty. Their Saturday starter is listed as TBD, which is the spot that would be in line for the finale on Thursday. Scherzer is recovering from a lower back strain, and he’s “uncertain” to pitch his next scheduled start on Sunday. If he does, that means the Rockies will miss him. If he doesn’t pitch on Sunday, however, he might find his way into the series. Let’s hope he pitches Sunday.
At Cincinnati (43-51)
July 26: German Márquez vs. Luis Castillo
July 27: Jon Gray vs. Anthony DeSclafani
July 28: Peter Lambert vs. Sonny Gray
The Rockies wrap up the road trip with a relatively easier assignment, as they take on the Reds. Of course, since this series is further off, there’s more chance for things to change. Also of course, by the time that last game of the road trip takes place, we might already know whether or not the road trip was a success or not.
With these types of road trips, I’m usually satisfied with about a .500 record. That seems like a tough accomplishment given the quality of opponents and how poorly the Rockies have been playing lately. But if you squint, you can see how it can turn out that way. Against the Yankees, the Rockies need to win at least one game. Based on the probable starters and the strength of the Yankees’ offense, it looks like the first game is the most winnable (Freeland vs. Happ). I’m worried about how well Senzatela will fare against the Yankees in game two, and I’m worried about how well the offense will fare against Paxton in game three.
If they win one in New York, the Rockies will then need to split the series in Washington and take two out of three against the Reds to finish out the trip. That does seem doable. The most winnable games look like one and three — Gray against Fedde and Freeland against Corbin. If the Rockies manage to miss Scherzer, maybe that’ll either give another chance, or a chance to take three of four. The Rockies did just win two of three against the Reds, so they should be able to do it again on the road. Of the three projected starters, the Rockies only saw Sonny Gray when the Reds visited Denver last week. He started the only low scoring game of the series, which was a 3-2 win for the Reds. Gray’s start looks like it will be the toughest matchup right now.
That’s the path to a 5-5 road trip. It should be enough to keep the Rockies in the thick of the Wild Card race. Once the trip ends, the Rockies return to Denver without a day off to finish off July with three against the Dodgers.
What’s a successful road trip for you?
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