Is this it? The two teams who most figured would be battling for the NL West crown are on a bit of a roll lately and making a late season push for a playoff spot. The Rockies welcome the Dodgers to Denver winning their last 4 games and are now only 4.0 games back in the Wild Card (trailing St. Louis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.) The Dodgers arrive in Denver having won their last 3 and are now 5.0 games back in the Wild Card. With only 32 games left on the schedule, both teams have to be looking to sweep.
66-60, 3rd place in NL West (Schedule and Results)
Scored 588 runs, Allowed 550 runs. Pythagorean W-L: 67-59
Season Series: Dodgers lead 6-3
First Base: Todd Helton is in his Age 36 season and is struggling badly. While the average at .260 isn't all that terrible, his OBP and SLG are at career lows. As such, Helton enters the series with a wOBA of only .318. Jason Giambi will get the occasional start at first base but is mostly the left handed pinch hitter. Giambi has a wOBA of .344 in 179 plate appearances.
Second Base: Clint Barmes is the starting second baseman for the Rockies. Barmes is a pretty standard soft-hitting middle infielder. Barmes has a terrible OBP of .305 leading to a wOBA of only .288 on the year. Barmes rates as a "plus" defender at second and was able to fill in at shortstop early in the season when needed.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies star and the starting shortstop. The 25 year old has is a power bat and enters the series with a slugging percentage of just over .500 and an OBP in the upper .300's. Tulowitzki's wOBA of .391 leads all NL shortstops with at least 200 plate appearances.
Third Base: 25 year old Ian Stewart is the every day third baseman for Colorado. Stewart has posted a wOBA of .344 on the season but is rated as a below average defensive third baseman.
Catchers: Miguel Olivo remains the starting catcher for the Rockies. Olivo has earned the starting job by posting very solid offensive numbers for a catcher. Olivo enters the series with 13 homeruns and a wOBA of .342. Chris Iannetta remains the backup catcher. I've always been a fan of Ianetta (would love for the Dodgers to trade for him in the offseason) but in limited plate appearances this year Ianetta's wOBA has dropped to .318.
Outfield: Carlos Gonzalez is the 24 year old talent for Colorado who is capable of playing all 3 outfield positions. Gonzalez has been a monster at the plate posting a wOBA of .395 on the season built on a slugging of .569. Dexter Fowler is the starting CF and is less of a threat with the bat. Fowler has a wOBA of .335 on the year and UZR does not rate him as an above average fielder. Seth Smith is the starting RF and has done a pretty solid job on the year. Smith has a wOBA of .354 on the season while playing plus defense in RF. Ryan Spilborghs has gotten some spot starts at the corner outfield spots but can play all 3 positions in a pinch. Spilborghs has a wOBA of .342 in 288 plate apperances. Spilborghs is the primary right hander pinch hitter. Noted Dodger killer Brad Hawpe was released.
Starting Pitching for our Series:
Game 1: Staff Ace Ubaldo Jimenez takes the bump in Game 1 against Clayton Kershaw. Lucky for the Dodgers, Kershaw owns Jimenez this season, and I'm sure that will be in his head. Jimenez has a spectacular 17-4 record on the season with an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 2.66/ 3.13/ 3.75. Jimenez started the season 15-1 and has lost 3 of his last 5 decisions.
Game 2: Jhoulys Chacin will be starting his 15th game of the season on Saturday against hopefully well rested Chad Billingsley. Chacin is a strike out machine with a K/9 of 9.66 on the season. Chacin enters the series with a line of 3.98/ 3.60/ 3.68.
Game 3: In the finale, Jason Hammel will face off against Ted Lilly. Hammel is a vintage Colorado pitcher as he consistently has an ERA north of his xFIP. On the year Hammel has made 23 starts and has a line of 4.35/ 3.57/ 3.75.
I've been a bit bearish on this Dodgers squad since the Dodgers dropped 2 of 3 in San Diego after the all-star break. I expected the Dodgers to lose 2 out of 3 in Milwaukee however the club pulled off the incredibly rare (for the 2010 Dodgers) road sweep. Another sweep and the Dodgers are back in business. The Dodgers are sending their top pitching crew to Colorado, unfortunately Billingsley is dealing with an injury (was pulled early from his last start and pushed back a day) and Lilly can't stay fortunate with BABIP forever. And those are the two pitchers who are going against the guys not named Ubaldo.
I expect the Dodgers to lose 2 out of 3.