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Colorado Rockie Series Preview

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The Colorado Rockies show up in town playing 500 baseball (14-14) after taking two of three from the first place Padres. While they haven't been as disappointing as the Dodgers, they are also not meeting the same lofty expectations that we had. Most of us would have expected this series to be battle for 1st place not last place. If the Dodgers can win two out of three they would still be in last place, they must sweep to swap spots, and that seems very unlikely with the hottest pitcher in the NL going on Sunday.

Even as their record is 14 - 14, they are also 5 - 5 in their last 10 games. They are in the middle of the pack in pitching and hitting. Their Pythagorean however says they are a 17 - 11 team having Scored 139 runs while allowing only 112.

The Rockies have endured numerous hits to the pitching staff losing Jeff Francis, Huston Street, Jason Hammel, and budding stud De La Rosa. The loss of De La Rosa will hurt the most as he was looking very good in the early going.  Brad Hawpe was the best hitter for the Rockies in the early going but he's also out. Right now only Ian Stewart is performing at an above average clip, and several key Rockies are slumping as they enter the Ravine.

Changes:

Notable Losses: Jason Marquis, Atkins

Notable Additions: Miguel Olivo, Mora

Old Friends: Joe Beimel

Position Breakdown

1st Base-Todd Helton is still the incumbent and restructured his contract to make sure he'd be a Rockie for years to come. Not sure how pleased the Rockies are with that arrangement. Helton has an ISOP of .045 to go along with his anemic slug% of .330. This from a 1st baseman who calls Coors home. He can still take a walk but so far in 2010 that is all he can do. TSL - .284/.380/.330

2nd Base-Clint Barmes and Melvin Mora are sharing the duties at the moment. Barmes is struggling so Mora is getting more at bats. Eric Young was brought up but so far has been playing more outfield then 2nd base.  Heading into the season this looked to be the only weak spot in the Rockie lineup.

SS - When Troy Tulowitzki plays like 2009 he is a MVP candidate. Luckily for us he's playing like 2008 so far. The only thing really missing from 2009 right now is the power which will probably come this weekend considering how the Dodger luck has gone this year. TSL - .295/.345/.411

3rd Base -  Ian Stewart replaces Garrett Atkins giving the Rockies better defense and offense. Huge upgrade for the Rockies this year and so far Stewart is living up to the hype with his excellent combination of power and patience. TSL - .279/.376/.523

C - Miguel Olivo supplanted Chris Iannetta with his hot start, but that hot start has turned cold. Only one XBH in his last eight games, Olivo is now right at level you'd expect. Good power, low average, low OBP. TSL - .246/.303/.493

CF - With Hawpe down, Dexter Fowler has taken over CF with Cargo moving to RF. After a slow start Fowler is starting to show off his considerable skills, with six multiple hit games out of his last seven he's been one of the Rockies hottest hitters.  TSL - .257/.342/.396

LF - This seems to be a platoon at the moment between Seth Smith and Eric Young. Seth Smith  was considered one of the best fourth outfielders in the game coming into the season and when Hawpe went down it was expected the Rockies were well covered. However Seth Smith is having trouble in all aspects of the game. His walk rate is only 3.6%, his K rate is over 20% and he's been incredibly unlucky with a BABIP of 18% giving him a TSL of .207/.258/.483. When he does get good wood on the ball he's still getting his XBH. Eric Young is the opposite of Smith, a natural 2nd baseman he's been forced into LF to bring some offense to the Rockies. His game is all based on speed and so far his TSL - .280/.379/.320

RF - Carlos Gonzalez is one of the most talented players in the NL but just like Matt Kemp his hot start has turned cold. He's only walked four times in over 100 plate appearances. At the end of April Cargo had an OPS of .899 and it has dropped to .815 in just five games. TSL - .317/.340/.475

Bench - With E Young and Melvin Mora part of the bench when they are not starting or Smith and Barmes the Rockies have plenty of depth. Add in Ryan Spilborgh and the Rockies have the best outfield depth in baseball. When they need some punch off the bench they have Jason Giambi hanging around.

On the DL: Brad Hawpe, Jeff Francis, Jorge De La Rosa, Huston Street, Jason Hammel

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game One -Esmil Rogers is his name and he's a converted SS who has found his way into the Rockie rotation much like Monk found his way into ours. He's made one start and lasted only four innings. Given that he was in the bullpen, and then entered the rotation, no matter how well he pitches he can't be expected to go more then five innings. His ERA is 5.62 and his xFIP is 5.12, according to fangraphs his average FB is 94 and he throws it 64% of the time. Has a slider but only throws is 3% of the time. Mostly a ground ball pitcher who uses his curveball as an out pitch.

Game Two - Jhoulys Chacin was just recalled last week to take Hammels place and he was brilliant on Sunday, throwing seven one-hit shutout innings against the Giants. He struck out seven and walked three. Normally a ground ball pitcher with command issues he is not someone to be taken lightly.

Game Three - You might have heard of Ubaldo Jimenez. Simply the best pitcher in the NL at the moment.

Bullpen: While Franklin Morales is holding down closer duties during Hudson Street's absence it is Manny Corpas who is doing the bulk of the work. Corpas, the one time Rockie closer, has already thrown 21 innings in the setup role and has an ERA of 1.66. However the xFIP is sitting at 4.48 so a correction could come anytime. This weekend would be nice. Rafael Betancourt continues to have the best skills in the bullpen even though his ERA is bloated at 5.56. Rounding out the bullpen are right handers Matt Belisle / Matt Daley, and left handers Joe Beimel / Randy Flores. For those USC fans here, Randy Flores hails from your school. Franklin Morales closing is an adventure with his eight walks in eleven innings. 

The Rockies are a good team with some nasty injuries, they have had to go to the farm just like us to round out the rotation. It would behoove us to win the first two games, we can ill afford another series loss at home after the way we played on the road.  Ubaldo is no gimme going against Clayton at home but I would not bet against him. Time for the Dodgers to prove if they are going to players this season or simply playing.