Not only are the Giants glad to be leaving the Great American Ballpark, but I am, too. There’s nothing mirthful or scientifically plausible about the weirdness that goes on in Cincinnati, it’s just pure destruction. Usually of the Giants pitching, but also of the norms and values of a baseball game.
And the whole Skyline Chili thing... yes, it’s better to view games in Cincinnati like the post-consumption results of said chili. Just let it run right through us.
Am I being soft on Coors Field, the next unfortunate stop on the Giants’ road trip? I don’t think so. We can use science to divine some of the mysteries of Coors. We can see how the park has been in the Giants’ head since its inception and that trauma has been passed through the team’s metaphorical bloodline. Generational trauma at this point.
The Giants — and all of us — won’t be walking into this series with any illusions about this going the way we hope it will. We expect absolute pain, and if we’re very lucky, the Giants might even win a game or two despite that pain and amidst the chaos.
The Rockies have just one more win than the Giants right now, but they still have Nolan Arenado. They still have Trevor Story. They’re the leading home run hitters on the team (9 and 8, respectively), and their combined total is greater than half the Giants’ team total (30). But home runs aren’t everything! The Mariners have hit 70 and they’re 19-18.
Colorado still has one of the worst offenses in baseball. By good ol’ weighted runs created plus, which scales to league average (100 = average), the Rockies’ 73 wRC+ is 27% below that average. The Giants are, um, well, they’re at 68 wRC+. But we already knew the Giants cannot hit. The Rockies’ extreme and surprising struggles have persisted for a second straight season.
Some of that has to do with injuries, however. The last time these two teams met, it was just Nolan Arenado and a bunch of backups. The lineup is back at full strength — that means Daniel Murphy (.688 OPS), David Dahl (.871 OPS), and Ryan McMahon (.710 OPS) — and over the last two weeks, the lineup has actually produced much closer to league average with a 92 wRC+. (The Giants have posted an 80...)
After losing 12 of 13 at the beginning of the season (including the first three games of their four-game series in San Francisco earlier in April), they’ve won 13 of 20, 6-4 at home and 7-3 on the road. Yeah, that’s the weirdest part in all this: the Rockies have been bad at Coors.
Pitching-wise, they’ve been middle of the pack for the season, but in the past two weeks, they’ve posted the third-worst ERA (7.54) in baseball. Don’t worry: the Giants are second after this Cincinnati trip (7.83).
Maybe these are two teams going in opposite directions, but it feels a lot more like the Giants have simply aged out of being competitive and are trying to sail across the ocean despite half the ship being flooded. The Rockies, though... they seem like they’re squandering their opportunity to advance to the top of the division.
Their starting pitching has taken a step back this season, but they’re still not the Rockies of old. And they’re really not when you consider that they’ve struggled so much on offense.
These have been the stone cold facts with minimal commentary. The reality will be that we’re about to see a lot of home runs, high-scoring games, miracle comebacks by the Rockies, and we’ll find some time to mutter more than a few “unbelievable”s to no one in particular over the next 72 hours. To know the Rockies is to know pain.
Hitter to watch
The Rockies were comfortable with letting Carlos Gonzalez go and not doing a single thing to add to their outfield in the offseason because of their confidence in David Dahl. After missing a couple of weeks due to injury (the Giants missed him in the last series), he’s come back and hit .281/.324/.469 with nine extra base hits (7 doubles, a triple, and a home run) in 69 plate appearances.
Against the Giants, his career line is .244/.311/.561 (.872 OPS) in 16 games (just 10 starts, 45 PA total). Just look at this split, though. At Oracle Park, his line is .185/.241/.333 (.575) in 9 games (7 starts, 29 PA). Yes, those remaining 16 plate appearances in Colorado against the Giants really do tell the story: 5 hits (3 home runs), 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, and a stolen base.
He is the perfect Coors Field hitter. His career .970 OPS there in 326 PA appearances (with exactly 100 hits) is striking against his .738 road OPS. Dereck Rodriguez struck him out twice last September after Dahl homered off of him, and Sam Dyson later struck him out. Dahl will likely see both this series. If the Giants can’t hold him in check, then everything they didn’t do to stop Arenado and Story will only be compounded exponentially.
Pitcher to watch
Tuesday’s starter Antonio Senzatela has built his entire and brief major league career on dominating the Giants. He’s appeared in 63 major league games, but started just 37 of them. Six of those have come against the Giants, the most starts he’s made against any one team. He’s pitched most of his 247.1 career ML innings against the Giants (40.1), and he’s produced his very best results against them.
His 4.43 strikeouts to walk ratio (31:7) is at least double the ratio he has against any team he’s started against. His 1.066 WHIP is the best against any team he’s started against. those 31 strikeouts — his most against any team, period.
He has always been frustratingly good against the Giants.
A wild Rockies comeback. An evening-ruining Rockies blowout. A “how did they do that?” Giants win. Not necessarily in that order.