Series Preview – Washington at Colorado – 7/21/14-7/23/14

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Washington Nationals (53-43) at Colorado Rockies (40-58)

  • COL at home (24-25), over their last 10 games (3-7)
  • WAS on road (23-23), last 10 games (6-4)

Probable Starters:

(Innings pitcher per-start, strikeouts per-9 IP, walks per-9 IP)

Up-up and Away - Bryce Harper tweaked his batting stance, Anthony Rendon thinks baseball is boring and the Nationals just won two-of-three against Milwaukee at home. Washington enters Coors Field in a dead heat with Atlanta(54-44) atop the NL East. The Nationals will be looking to do what Pittsburgh just did, feast on the Rockies and stuff the win column.

These two teams played a three game set in Washington at the start of July (here’s Adam Peterson’s series recap). Washington hitters went 26-of-93 (.280 avg) with 17 RBI’s (18 runs) and three home runs  on their way to a series sweep. Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche  and Jayson Werth went deep as the Nationals got contributions from up-and-down their lineup.

Their offense is still trying to catch up to their pitching. Washington’s 3.10 team ERA is tops in the NL. They are sixth in runs scored (402) and .249 team average is eighth in the senior circuit.  They started the second half off right hitting .327/.365/.458 over the weekend with 35 hits, eight doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI’s versus the Brewers.

Three of a Kind - Fister, Zimmerman and Strausburg were the three starters Colorado faced in Washington. Their arsenal is pretty good.

Rockies hitters have the least amount of at-bats against Fister as he was in the AL before last years trade to Washington. He gave up seven hits, three runs, striking out five and walking zero over seven innings in his last start versus Colorado. It took him all of 80 pitches to get the job done. Justin Morneau (9-28) and Michael Cuddyer (3-11) are the only hitters with double-digit at-bats against Fister. Cuddy won’t play and Morneau’s status is questionable.

Zimmermann’s last start against the Rockies, 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 5 SO, 1 BB. The potential hitters Zimmermann could face in Colorado have a .229 career average against him. Troy Tulowitzki (3-10) and DJ LeMahieu (3-6) are the only Rockies with at least three hits. Zimmermann is coming off giving up four runs on six hits at Philadelphia in 3 1/3 innings pitched.

Maybe Strasburg will get lost on his way to the ball park? That won’t happen as he’ll be looking to repeat his eight strikeout, one walk, five hit, one run against performance versus the Rockies. Over his last four starts, including COL, he has 35 strikeouts and four walks.

Rafael Soriano blew the save Sunday and got the win. The joys of being a closer. He’s 22-of-25 this season in saves with 36 strikeouts and 12 walks through 38 innings pitched. 25-of-87 inherited runners have scored on the Nationals pen this season. The teams overall pitching numbers against the Rockies this year: 27 IP, 2.33 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 23 strikeouts and six walks.

(Strasburg - sl.wikipedia.org)

(Strasburg – sl.wikipedia.org)

Momentum - For the starting pitchers that is. Franklin Morales gets the first crack at keeping the lefty groove going Monday. His two starts since being reinserted into the rotation: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R (1 ER), 4 SO, 2 BB vs. LAD and 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 SO, 3 BB vs. SF.

DLR is locked in through three July starts, 18 IP, 13 hits, four earned runs, eight strikeouts and seven walks. That’s good for a 2 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He’s tossed six or more innings in his last five starts.

“You’ve gotta be able to put games away. It’s frustrating,” Walt Weiss said after Sunday’s game. That was in reaction to three blow leads and two blown saves from the bullpen. Pittsburgh was a confident team willing to grind out wins. The Rockies are a team that is just waiting for the bottom to fall out, especially when the bullpen is handed the keys to the car.

Where Have the Bats Gone? - The Rockies were led by starters Jorge De La Rosa, Brett Anderson and Tyler Matzek as they came up short, 4-2, 3-2 in 11 and 5-3 against the Pirates. Colorado missed and didn’t give themselves enough chances with RISP(2-10, 2-3, 0-3).

Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez were still on the disabled list when these two teams played in DC. Arenado is 9-of-46 (.196/.106/.304) with five strikeouts, two RBI’s and two runs scored since his return to the lineup July 3rd. Defense was where Arenado announced himself to the world. It was a rusty weekend for him in Pittsburgh as he committed an error in each game.

Cargo returned July 11th and through six games is hitting 5-of-21 (.238/.273/.476) with one home run, three RBI’s and three runs scored. With Michael Cuddyer sidelined right field is Cargo’s home now as Corey Dickerson mans left, Charlie Blackmon in center and reserves Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes mixed in by Walt Weiss.

With Tulo and Morneau questionable, Arenado and Cargo have to be the big bats in the lineup. Every at-bat will be an up-hill battle for the Rockies meaning grinding out at bats is a must. With swing-and-miss pitchers on the mound for Washington the Rockies can’t afford to fall behind early and fall victim to a strikeout rhythm. Colorado’s team averages versus the Nationals .235/.276/.327.

Josh Rutledge homered Sunday in Pittsburgh starting for Tulo. He’s hitting .295/.358/.464 with three home runs, 12 RBI’s and 20 runs scored in 112 AB this year. Tulo is not a player you replace but Rutledge has been able to assist the offense and defense when he’s been called upon this year.

More Cargo blasts please:

About J.J. Buck

J.J. Buck - Sports radio host in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Also a student at the University of New Mexico. I grew up just outside of Denver in Arvada, Colorado. My parents took me to the first ever Rockies game at Mile High Stadium. While my memories are hazy, I was five years-old, it got me hooked on the game. My passion for sports runs deep. From the Rockies to the Avalanche, a Rocky Mountain sports fan to the bone.
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