The current generation of Rockies is atypical. Historically, they’ve depended on their offense to carry them through while the pitchers are there because according to the rules of baseball, someone from their team needs to pitch balls to the opposing team.
Not so with these Rockies. Their strength is in their rotation. German Marquez is a top-25 starter, and they locked him up for years at below market rates. Kyle Freeland turned in a breakout season last year. Jon Gray is much better than his 5.12 ERA from last year implies as evidenced by his start last night.
Then there’s Chad Bettis who is starting tonight. Bettis is the classic Rockies starter. His ceiling is Okay. He’ll pitch well enough to set up the six-run comeback, but that’s about it.
Over the last three seasons, Bettis has stuck out 5.9 batters per nine which is Ty Blachian. Perhaps he could live with that if he also had impeccable control, but a 3.3 walks per nine isn’t great.
Something to watch is that Bettis has actually thrown more changeups than fastballs in 2019. That might be a small-sample thing or it might signal a change in approach. The changeup has been his best pitch throughout his career, so why not throw it more?
It hasn’t worked out for him thus far. In his first two starts, Bettis has allowed 12 runs in 8 1/3 innings. He’s walked more batters than he’s struck out and he’s given up 14 hits, two of them homers. His last time out, he lasted only 2 1/3 innings against the Dodgers
Naturally, this means that he’ll shut the Giants out over seven innings. The Giants have managed just two runs over the last two games. Both of those came on Kevin Pillar homers. While it would be rad if he made it four homers in five games, it’s unreasonable to expect Pillar to keep doing everyone’s work for them.
Still, as feckless as the Giants offense has been, it hasn’t been as bad as the Rockies. The Athletic’s Nick Groke has been compiling some not-so-fun facts about the Rockies’ performance.
In their past 101 innings, the Rockies have held a lead for exactly five outs.— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) April 12, 2019
If the Rockies lose tonight, it will be their worst start to a season through the first 14 games. If the Giants win, it will be the first time they’ve at least split a series this year, and it will put them into a decent position to win their first series of 2019. There’s a lot on the line.
The Giants are counting on Drew Pomeranz who has been pretty, pretty, pretty good so far. His velocity has returned to pre-2018 levels and he’s located the ball well. Through nine innings, he’s stuck out 11 and walked four. I’d expect both of those numbers to come down. If he’s to be successful, he’ll have to do a better job of keeping the ball in the ballpark as he’s given up three homers in two starts.
Neither of these teams have scored a run in the first inning this year. Can either of these lineups do it?