SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Rockies have made the playoffs in each of the last two years but a rough start has set them back in the standings and to this point their pitching staff has allowed the most runs in the National League.
Red Sox 0, Rockies 0
Up, a bit. The Rockies record is really down thanks to a stretch early in the year when they lost eight in a row and 12 out of 13. They went red-hot after that, but now they’ve sort of evened out and are playing solid baseball. Colorado is coming off a series victory over the Padres and overall they’ve won six of their last ten.
5/14: Chris Sale vs. Kyle Freeland, 7:10 PM ET
Chris Sale is coming off his most Chris Sale-like performance of the year against the Orioles, and now he’ll have his biggest test of the month of May so far. The Rockies have plenty of talented hitters, particularly from the right side, but if Sale is throwing like he did the last time when he struck out 14 in eight innings while allowing just one run, he’ll be just fine. Expect, like the last outing, for Sale to come out with a slower velocity before building it up over the first inning or two. Also expect his velocity to be down a bit from his last couple outings simply because it is supposed to be unseasonably cold on Tuesday. Still, with the way he is throwing his slider and the fact that he is commanding it on both sides of the plate, there’s every reason to feel good about where the ace is right now.
Last season, Freeland made a big name for himself over the course of a great regular season but particularly in the postseason. The southpaw, who is from the Denver area originally, tossed six shutout innings in the Wildcard Game last year against the Cubs. That came after putting up a 2.85 ERA over the course of the regular season. In 2019, things haven’t been as great. The 26-year-old (Tuesday is his birthday) has pitched to a 5.84 ERA over his first eight starts with a 5.42 FIP and a 4.92 DRA. His strikeout rate is about the same as last year, but he’s walking a few more batters and most importantly has already allowed more than half of the 17 homers he allowed in all of 2018. Some of that is luck and some of it is a slight decrease in ground ball rate, not to mention the explosion of home runs all over the league. Freeland has been particularly bad in his last three starts with an 8.47 ERA over 17 innings. This year Freeland has featured a fastball that sits in the 92-93 range along with a cutter and a sinker.
5/15: TBD vs. German Márquez, 7:10 PM ET
The Red Sox website does not have a probable pitcher listed for Wednesday’s game as of this writing. Part of that may be due to David Price’s potential return, though that seems more likely to come in the next series against the Astros. ESPN has the listed probable as Eduardo Rodriguez, which would make sense as he’d be on normal rest for this one. I’m assuming the young lefty will get the start, and like Sale he’s throwing the best he has all year. He’s coming off his first seven-inning start since 2017 and over his last four outings Rodriguez has pitched to a 2.28 ERA with 25 strikeouts and eight walks over 23 2⁄3 innings.
Márquez, like Freeland, really started making a name for himself last season, particularly when he got away from Coors Field. The former Rays prospect, who came to Colorado along with Jake McGee in the deal that sent Corey Dickerson to Tampa Bay, had a 2.95 ERA on the road in 2018 and a 2.61 ERA in the second half overall. Things were set up for him to take a step forward in 2019, and so far he’s pitching well. The 24-year-old has made nine starts so far this year and has pitched to a 3.43 ERA with a 3.42 FIP and a 2.72 DRA. His strikeout rate is a bit down compared to last year, though Márquez is still striking out a little more than a batter per inning. Along with that he has shown impeccable control with less than two walks per nine. The righty is the midst of a bit of a rough stretch with a 5.30 ERA over his last three starts while allowing an OPS of .763. Márquez will throw a pair of mid-90s fastballs along with a slider and a curveball.
Notable Position Players
Nolan Arenado is a perennial MVP candidate, one of the very best all-around players in baseball and my personal favorite player outside of the Red Sox. He does everything well, and while he’s certainly aided by Coors Field he is a great hitter anywhere with huge power and tremendous plate discipline to go with it. On top of all that, he is perhaps the best defensive third baseman in the game.
Charlie Blackmon is getting a big older but is still a great player who hits for power at the top of Colorado’s lineup while rarely striking out and puts the ball in play in almost every plate appearance. One thing that has started to go with his age is his impact on the bases, as the former 40-base stealer only swiped 12 in 2018 and has just two so far this year.
Trevor Story was a classic sort of all-or-nothing bat early in his career, but his strikeout rate has fallen every year and is currently at a respectable 23 percent. He adds to that big power and the type of speed Blackmon is losing, forming a big top-three with Blackmon and Arenado.
Daniel Murphy missed a bunch of time in April and hasn’t really gotten into a groove thus far in 2019. The former Met and National is still making contact and hitting for some power, but uncharacteristically is carrying an extremely low BABIP.
David Dahl has struck out over 30 percent of the time this year, but thanks to a huge BABIP and big power he’s been a well above-average hitters despite that fact.
Raimel Tapia has had just about the same season as Dahl, just with some more power.
Garrett Hampson hasn’t hit at all this year, but might get both starts at second base with the Red Sox likely starting a pair of lefties. If Hampson does get on base, he is certainly going to run.
Mark Reynolds is a good bet to DH at least one, if not both of these games. He’s the same three true outcomes hitter he’s always been, even this late in his career.
Tony Wolters isn’t going to hit for much power but he’ll put the ball in play and draw a few walks.
Ian Desmond has had a dreadful season, showing some power but little else to go along with it.
Wade Davis has been the closer in Colorado since last season, and he’s been holding it together this year. He’s been walking a bit of a tightrope, however, with a solid 2.63 ERA but one that has happened with over six walks per nine innings. The Red Sox have been able to put together big late-game rallies against this type of pitcher, though obviously Davis is good enough and has been good enough to escape trouble.
Seunghwan Oh was a midseason trade acquisition from Toronto last season, and after pitching well for Colorado in 2018 he has struggled mightily this year. The righty has a 10.05 ERA thanks to already allowing five homers in just 14 1⁄3 innings.
Scott Oberg has a 2.12 ERA in a setup role with the Rockies, but he’s doing that despite striking out only 6.4 batter per nine and walking more than four per nine. Like Davis, he seems to be walking a tightrope, at least judging by the numbers.
Mike Dunn is the top lefty in this bullpen. He is at his best when he’s missing bats, and while he only has about eight strikeouts per nine this year his swinging strike rate suggests he should be doing a bit better than that.
Jake McGee has been out since early April with a knee injury and could return shortly after this series.
Noel Cuevas suffered a quad strain in mid-April and has been out of Colorado’s outfield rotation since then. There’s no timetable that I’ve seen for his return.
Chris Rusin has been out all year with a back injury but is currently in the midst of a rehab assignment in Triple-A.
Harrison Musgrave suffered an elbow strain at the start of this month and the timetable for his return is unclear.
Tuesday is not going to be great, though the rain should clear out in plenty of time for that game. Still, it’s going to be in the low-40s most of the day. I might get snow up here in Maine! Accuweather says the RealFeel for the game will be in the mid-30s. Gross. Wednesday should be a little better with some sun during the day and highs in the high-50s. Summer better get here soon.