The Colorado Rockies look to build on their weekend series win over the Dodgers, traveling to Houston to take on the World Champion Astros.
German Marquez takes the pill for the Rockies as they look to build on the huge weekend series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Marquez sits ninth in the NL in ERA at 3.09. Marquez has generally been solid recently although his last outing in Pittsburgh saw him give up 10 hits and 3 runs in six innings of work. If there’s a silver lining to his loss to the Pirates, it’s the 10 strikeouts he recorded. Marquez hits the mid-90’s on his four-seamer and he likes to catch batters down-and-in which accounts for his low exit-velocity.
What all that means is that Marquez lives and dies by velocity. His rotation on that four-seam fastball is a bit below league average, so the pitch has average movement. I recall, watching the 1997 World Series, Craig Counsell of the Florida Marlins talking about facing an Indians pitcher that was throwing in the high-90’s (maybe Jose Mesa? Surely not Hershiser..). Counsell commented that he could hit a bullet if it were going straight and the thing that fools hitters is movement, not velocity.
It’s a different game now, so much of the offensive side is home run or strikeout, some of the subtlety of small ball has retreated in favor of power. Marquez’ pitching style is suited to the current status and it shows. Lots of hits, few runs and lots of strikeouts. With Colorado’s stellar fielding, Marquez can spare a baserunner here and there. It’s been exciting to see the young Venezuelan gain confidence and solidify himself in the rotation. Marquez was two when the Rockies played their first game.
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On the other side, the Astros counter with Justin Verlander, owner of an 11-7 record and a 2.50 ERA. Verlander, at 35 remains one of the top pitchers in the game. In his last start, however, he gave up six runs in two innings before ultimately being ejected from the game. Look for the big righty to re-establish himself.
Offensively, the Rockies may still be without the services of phenom Nolan Arenado but have had standout fill-in performances from rookie Ryan McMahon to keep the Rox afloat in Arenado’s absence. Of note, McMahon’s 7th inning shot on Friday to propel the Rockies to victory and his storybook 3-run blast on Sunday. Pat Valaika has also filled in at third during Arenado’s absence.
Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and DJ LeMahieu continue their outstanding offensive play. Carlos Gonzalez remains an offensive force. Ian Desmond has cooled but has come such a long way from early-season struggles.
Of concern for the Rockies are the catchers. While outstanding defensively and with game management, hitting from the position has struggled. The numbers for the catchers with RISP are particularly dismal. The Rockies have struggled with RISP as a team, some have noted that it’s remarkable they are in the NL West race as poorly as they’ve performed moving runners.
Houston sits comfortably atop the AL West (I still can’t process that Houston is in the AL), two games up on the surprising Oakland A’s. They are rolling and showing why they are the Champs. Colorado has been up-and-down over their last 10 but the series win against visiting LA can’t be undersold. It gives them the confidence to carry-on in the dog days of the last quarter of the season.
With the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks losing on Monday, the Rockies have moved into second place in the division, just one game back of the D’Backs.
Enjoy the Rockies and the race, we are coming into baseball’s power band and every game matters to the likelihood the boys from Blake Street are part of that.