The Giants almost made it to June without having to play at Coors Field. There was nothing they could do to stop it aside from hope a Coors-sized sinkhole opened and consumed the stadium. At that time of writing, Coors has not been swallowed pelican-like into the maw of the earth, so I guess they’ll have to play some baseball games there.
Like Wrigley Field, where the Giants have lost four series in a row, the Giants have been abysmal in Colorado recently. Last year, they were 1-9 in road games against the Rockies and beyond that, it’s hard to think any good memories the Giants have created in Denver. When I close my eyes, all I see is Nolan Arenado, bleeding from the eyebrow, bellowing over the slain corpse of an unrecognizable Giants reliever. I see that fourth of July game from 2009 that went roughly 27 innings and made me late for a BBQ. I see Ryan Spilborghs sprinting around the bases even though dude, you already won. Cut it out.
Theoretically, it shouldn’t be that difficult to win the series. The Rockies are one of the worst offensive teams by park-adjusted metrics. They’re last in wRC+ and second to last in OPS+. By wRC+, the 2018 Rockies have their worst offense in team history. In a vacuum, they can’t hit. But the Giants will still have to pitch to them at Coors. They’re hitting .263/.337/.446 at home compared to .215/.290/.364 on the road. The park still makes them look like a competent team, but those aren’t Coors numbers.
Of course, now that I’ve pointed out how bad their offense has been, they’re going to score 30+ runs in the series. They will be hitting against the Giants’ rotation after all.
And Colorado’s rotation has been good. Their starters have collectively put together a 4.18 ERA, which isn’t bad at all considering they play half their games at Coors. The Giants will face Chad Bettis, Kyle Freeland, and Jon Gray this week. Bettis and Freeland stymied the Giants when they met in San Francisco, but the Giants jumped all over Jon Gray, tagging him for five runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings.
With Bryan Shaw, Adam Ottavino, and Wade Davis in the bullpen, the Giants better hope to do their damage against the Rockies’ starters because not even Coors will help against those dudes.
Hitter to watch: Ordinarily, I would highlight a good player, but Ian Desmond has been one of the very worst players in the majors at -1.1 fWAR. Only Chris Davis has been worse at -1.5 fWAR. Desmond is hitting .176/.230/.374 good for a 45 wRC+. His 64.9% GB rate is the worst in the majors by five percentage points.
And yet, he would be second on the Giants with home runs. He hit one of those in San Francisco when he went 2-for-4 and drove in four runs. He went 3-for-18 in the series, so this isn’t totally an excuse to say lolgiants. It’s also to point out that he still has flashes of looking like the old Ian Desmond.
Pitcher to watch: Adam Ottavino has taken his game to an entirely new level. He’s striking out 14 batters per 9 innings and while that’s only seventh in the majors, that’s still twice what the Giants’ staff is capable of. He has a 39% whiff percentage on his slider, which looks like this:
Sure that’s a Padre he’s getting to swing and miss, but that thing has such late, dramatic movement. Brooks Baseball has the horizontal movement on his slider up to 10.08 inches. His previous high was 7.65. With such a dramatic change in a pitch he throws more than 50% of the time, it’s no wonder he’s having such unprecedented success.
Prediction: The Giants have not inspired a lot of confidence in the past week, especially after last night’s four-hour exhibition of nincompoopery. On paper, I think the Giants have a decent shot to win the series, but my gut and my eyeballs are telling me that hoping for one win feels optimistic. The Giants will take one out of three, but the Rockies will walk off in the other two games adding to the already extensive anthology of the Giants embarrassing themselves at Coors.