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Series Preview: The Colorado Rockies? Now? In this economy?

The Giants are facing a bad team at a weird point. They really need these wins.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

I tried very hard to figure out the one or two things you could point to that explains why the Colorado Rockies are so bad, but my finger(s) kept drifting towards the front office. By total fWAR, they’re 25th in pitching (3.3) and last in Major League Baseball in hitting (0.7).

How does that happen beyond personnel choices directed by the personnel choosers? It’s a team like this I really don’t feel good about the San Francisco Giants facing right now.

Oh sure, the Giants are pretty good, and certainly much better than the Rockies by comparison — or, at least, on the hitting side, where their team fWAR of 8.9 is 7th in MLB. Their 4.9 from pitching is just 21st — but in the NBA this might be called a trap series, especially after yesterday’s off day, and, well, look: none of us should be thrilled about a series in Coors Field.

Yeah, the Giants went 7-3 there last season — they’re on a 5-game winning streak, in fact! — and are 14-5 a mile high over the last two seasons, BUT! It’s the Rockies.

In fairness to the Rockies, it’s also the Giants. Some interesting notes about this particular matchup:

This is the fourth time in the matchup history where the teams have met for the first time this late in the year. Back in 2020, it wasn’t until August 3rd, but given the shortened season maybe that doesn’t count for these purposes. In 1996, they didn’t meet until July 1st and in 1998 it was June 15th. I offer this as nothing more than an unusual note, and an obvious quirk of the new scheduling system.

The other part of that scheduling system involves fewer games against division opponents. This series represents 3 of 13 games rather than 19. The Giants are just 2-7 against their division so far, and last season, the Rockies were the only NL West opponent they had a winning record against. The Giants have also had only one home series against the West.

Meanwhile, the Rockies are 3-8 against the division but 15-14 at home. They still have a negative run differential (-57) on the season, and that’s the worst in the National League, but are, remarkably, 8-6 in 1-run games (the Giants are 5-7). 7 of those 8 wins came at Coors. 6 of those 7 wins involved — but weren’t saved by — their closer, former Giant Pierce Johnson.

Pierce Johnson has not been good (6.85 ERA / 5.39 FIP), but overall, their bullpen has been the reason for the pitching staff’s positioning on the fWAR rankings, as low as it is. They’ve gotten 2.5 wins above replacement from the group, which is 4th in MLB and 2nd in the NL (behind Cincinnati).

This isn’t quite the situation the Giants faced against the Orioles, where the rest of the team was really good and clutch late with the bats before handing over to a dominant pen; it looks like the starters give up big deficits and then the bullpen feasts on tired hitters — at least, that’s the commentary I’m deploying given this data:

ERA, Innings 1-3: 5.51
ERA, Innings 4-6: 5.12
ERA, Innings 7-9: 4.72

But the relief corps has been good at limiting home runs. The primary reliever group outside of Pierce Johnson (who has allowed 5) — Jake Bird, Brent Suter, Justin Lawrence, and Brad Hand — has given up just 3 home runs in 127.2 IP. Their relievers have posted just 0.85 HR/9 which is 5th-best in MLB (2nd in MLB behind Cincinnati). They do have a critical weakness, though: an NL-leading 4.08 BB/9 (4th in MLB).

The Rockies mess me up. They’re not setup to be a great team and the notion that they’re a thorn in the Giants’ side has mostly been disproved in the Zaidi era (Giants are 45-22 against them); and yet, here I am waiting for the other foot to drop. What am I missing in this analysis?

Their best hitters — right now — are Randal Grichuk (121 wRC+) and Elias Diaz (114). Jurickson Profar has generated -1.1 fWAR and yet he’s played in 53 of their 61 games. Charlie Blackmon is 1) still on the team and 2) generating offense (105 wRC+). And yet, they give whatever they get from their offense and pitching away on their tremendously bad defense (-12.3 Defensive Runs, 9th-worst in MLB).

I feel like the Giants should have a good shot in this series, and yet I feel this sense of dread. If they’re truly going to escape the gravity well of .500, then they’ll need a sweep to get on the right track. Of course, even a series win gets them back to even and that will look just fine — but the Rockies offer a tantalizing possibility, and I think that’s their whole gimmick: get a team’s hopes up by being so obviously bad on the surface and then suck out their souls as they get close.


Where they stand


Record: 26-35, 5th in NL West
Run differential: -57, 15th in NL (4th-worst in MLB)
Postseason standing: 6.5 games back in the NL Wild Card, 9.5 games out of the division
Momentum: 1-game losing streak; 4-6 in their last 10 games


Record: 29-30, 3rd in NL West
Run differential: +1, 7th in the NL
Postseason standing: 2.5 games back in the NL Wild Card, 5.5 games out of the division
Momentum: 1-game losing streak; 5-5 in their last 10 games


Series details

Who: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies
Where: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
When: Tuesday (5:40pm PT), Wednesday (5:40pm PT), Thursday (12:10pm PT)
National broadcasts: MLB Network simulcasts on Wednesday and Thursday

Projected starters:

Tuesday: John Brebbia (opener) vs. Dinelson Lamet
Wednesday: Logan Webb vs. TBD
Thursday: TBD vs. TBD


Rockies to watch

Austin Wynns: He’s just two teams away from crossing the Herges-Finley Line, a made up line of demarcation between major leaguers who haven’t played for all five NL West teams and those who have. Right now, he’s one of only fourteen to have played for the Rockies, Dodgers, and Giants.

Most importantly, the Rockies are 5-4 with Wynns on the roster. His first game with them wasn’t until May 5th, but I’m compelled to point out that they went 15-13 in May after a 9-20 start (they’re 2-2 in June). I’m not saying Wynns has been the difference maker, but on the other hand, maybe?

Jurickson Profar: Despite that -1.1 fWAR, dude just keeps playing. He **loves** playing the Giants, though. For his career, he’s batting .284.358.419 in 173 career plate appearances (49 games) and that .778 OPS is his second-best against a team he’s played at least 40 games against — somehow, he’s tormented the Diamondbacks more: .298.414.404 in 186 PA (51 games). He’s been tough to strikeout (69th percentile K%, 72nd percentile BB%, 74th percentile Whiff Rate), but he hasn’t hit the ball really hard when he’s had the chance. He’s basically hit the ball like Thairo Estrada has, but not as often.

Dinelson Lamet: Ah, Dinelson Lamet. When the pandemic started and we all went into lockdown, I became addicted to Out of the Park Baseball. Lamet was one of the prospect-y guys I’d always trade for (from the San Diego Padres) because of his tantalizing stuff. In only a few seasons across separate franchise universes did he pan out, and in our reality, Lamet has bounced around from starter to reliever and his stuff hasn’t quite tantalized. He had Tommy John surgery back in 2018 and in 2021 the Padres feared he’d have to have a second one. In 2022, he became part of the trade to the Brewers for Josh Hader, but the Brewers simply DFA’d him after activating him from the IL, the Rockies claimed him and used him strictly as a reliever probably because of that forearm inflammation he’d experienced.

But now they’re returning him to the starter role after activating him from the IL May 31st. This is the role he’s performed best in as a major leaguer:

3.90 ERA in 288.2 IP as a starter (57 games)
6.97 ERA in 60.2 IP as a reliever (57 games)

He features a four-seam fastball, though, and the Giants usually devour those for home runs, so... I would watch to see if the Giants can tee off on him in Coors Field.


Giants to watch

Joc Pederson: He’s supposed to be activated for this series and I’d really like to see what a middle of the order looks like with him in it. Hitter’s timing always comes back last following health, but I’d like to think that with all the new technology and coaching that the adjustment period window has shrunk and he’ll be able to tee off on pitches early in the game.

Thairo Estrada: Same deal as Joc and we should all be pulling for Estrada to hit the ground running with the bat, because even though he’s still just barely the best second baseman in the National League — a position being threatened due to missing time on the IL — he’s got to make some noise to cloud the arguments being made for Mr. .400, Luis Arraez.

Michael Conforto: Hopefully, **his** health has come back to him and he can be another middle of the order threat this week. He’s got bomb potential in his bat, but in just 18 games at Coors Field he has **one** home run.

Mike Yastrzemski: He has 79 career home runs and 10 of those have come at Coors Field. He simply crushes there. His career line (27 games): .330/.402/.718 (1.120). 19 of his 34 career hits in Coors have been extra base hits.

Logan Webb: After Oracle Park (257.2 IP), Coors Field is the major league field where he’s pitched the most innings (33.1 IP), and in six career games (all starts), he’s pitched ace-like: 31 K, 7 BB, 2 HR allowed, 1.050 WHIP. He’s the middle of an opener-TBD sandwich and, well, I really think the Giants’ ace should be their ace. He has a 1.73 ERA since the start of May (41.2 IP) with a 39:10 K:BB. He’s doing the thing. You know what I mean! That thing of being awesome! I want to watch him keep being awesome, even though it’s Coors Field.




Giants at Rockies

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