Series Preview – Cincinnati at Colorado – 8/14/14-8/17/14

Jordan Lyles

Cincinnati Reds (60-60) vs Colorado Rockies (46-74)

  • COL at home (28-30), last 10 (2-8), vs. NL Central (7-19)
  • CIN on road (28-31)m last 10 (5-5),  vs. NL West  (15-15)

Probable Starters:

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

All About Todd - Colorado fans get a shot of energy this weekend with the retirement of Todd Helton‘s number 17 at Coors Field. Whenever Helton stepped into a batters box, it didn’t matter where, he hit. A career .316 hitter he raked at home, .345 and recorded a .287 average on the road. 592 of Helton’s 2,519 career hits were doubles, which ranks him 16th all-time. He won the 2000 National League batting title hitting .372. He was also a vacuum at first base winning three gold gloves finishing with a .996 fielding percentage.

Todd Helton is the face of the Colorado Rockies. The rumors swirled as his career went on would he be traded to Boston or New York. He stayed a mile high and notched 17 seasons into his belt.

(2007 NLCS - sportsthenandnow.com)

(2007 NLCS – sportsthenandnow.com)

That image of Todd Helton stands out in my mind. Capping what is the greatest season so far in Rockies history and the month known as Rocktober. The raw emotion shown by Helton after the Rockies completed a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks to advance to the World Series.

Editor’s Note: Make sure to come to the Rockies Bloggers Panel on Saturday, August 16th at 1pm at El Charrito’s where we will talk about the Toddfather.

New Era Veteran - Colorado couldn’t have asked for a better player to take over at first, Justin Morneau. The 33 year-old isn’t the future but he has stabilized the position and been a veteran influence on the Rockies roster. The former American League MVP is hitting .324/.364/.508 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI’s.

Swing and a Miss - “We’ve got to focus on putting a total game together, putting together nine innings,” Walt Weiss said after the Rockies loss in San Diego Tuesday, “It’s been tough to do.”

The worst record in baseball has been backed up by a team hitting .220/.271/.380 over their last six games with 68 strikeouts.

“We’ve been striking out entirely too much lately,” Weiss said after Wednesdays game. “It’s about competing when you get to two strikes.”

Colorado had 26 hits and scored 15 runs the first time they faced the Reds this season in a three game series. They struck out 26 times in 113 plate appearances. For more on their San Diego series check out Adam Peterson’s recap.

Head Down Ball Out – Rockies pitchers have given up eight home runs in their last six games. Arizona and San Diego combined to hit .282/.354/.477.

Jorge De La Rosa, the Yoda of the Rockies pitching staff has had to grind to start August. Two starts, 12 hits, eight runs against. He’s not walking hitters (1) and still missing bats (8 SO). The lefty is eating innings and giving the Rockies a shot every time he takes the mound. Opponents are hitting .242 off DLR this season. He’s on track to have his third best average against in his career in a full season pitched.

It’s been a fun ride for Franklin Morales. From World Series starter to Boston Red Sox to bullpen arm. The lefty has given up his fair share of hits (125 in 112.1 IP) this year. Right-handed hitters have slashed .309/.388/.532 while lefties have hit .226/.300/.363. He has pitched at least six innings in his last two starts.

Jordan Lyles went six innings, struck out eight, walked four, giving up just two runs on four hits when he toed the rubber against the Reds. In his two starts since returning from the disabled list Lyles has thrown 93 and 101 pitches. Building confidence at Coors Field the rest of the season is important for the 23 year-old. Lyles has a 3.86 ERA, 1.343 WHIP at home this year and has given up only three home runs in six starts.

A word you’ve heard a lot associated with Yohan Flande lately, gritty. I have been a fan of his style since his call up. He winds up and throws. No wasted time as he just attacks hitters. Flande has thrown first pitch strikes 60 percent of the time this year. He’s not going to blow you away with his stuff or be a future ace, but he’s a player that has carved out a chance to earn a role in the bullpen or as a future fill in starter. The 28 year-old lefty has a 5.36 ERA, 1.29 WHIP with 20 strikeouts and 11 walks in 40.1 IP.

Maybe not showering could change the luck of the Rockies bullpen? Just throwing that out there.

Fighting Reds – Cincinnati is 5.5 games back in the NL Central and 3.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot. This four game series is huge for them.

Colorado hit around Alfredo Simon way back in May, 3 IP, eight hits, five runs. That was also a lineup the featured Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Simon is coming off back-to-back five inning outings, one of which a six hit, five runs against verses Cleveland, the other a four hit, two run outing against Miami.

Don’t forget about Johnny Cueto. Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright are running away with all the headlines. Cueto’s name should be in the conversation for NL Cy Young. His 2.05 ERA is fourth best in baseball, 181 strikeouts seventh most in the majors and his 179.2 IP is third most behind David Price (185.1) and Felix Hernandez (180.1). Cueto held the Rockies to five hits and two runs over eight innings when they faced off.

Not bad when Homer Bailey is rounding out your rotation. Through two August starts he’s tossed 14 innings, given up seven hits, one run along with 13 strikeouts and four walks. Bailey’s .247 batting average against is the highest out of the starters Colorado will face and that’s a really good number. Bailey went 7 1/3 innings surrendering one run on four hits in his start verses the Rockies.

Mat Latos‘ season started June 14th and he’s right on track with the rest of Cincinnati’s rotation. The 6-foot-6 right-hander has a 2.95 ERA, 0.94 WHIP with 47 strikeouts and 18 walks in 73.1 IP. The former Padre has five starts at Coors Field where he has posted a 3.21 ERA, 1.099 WHIP with a .228/.274/.394 batting line against.

Jonathan Broxton has a 1.47 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 13 walks bridging the gap to flamethrower Aroldis Chapman. 25 saves, 74 strikeouts, 13 walks in 37 1/3 innings pitched this year for Chapman. A peak at DailyBaseballData.com shows how Bryan Price has used his bullpen over the last seven days.

(Johnny  Cueto - zimbio.com)

(Johnny Cueto – zimbio.com)

Have you Heard? - Of Devin Mesoraco that is. The 26 year-old catcher Meseraco is hitting .297/.366/.580 with 29 home runs and 63 RBI’s. His .580 slugging percentage is tops among catchers playing on a consistence basis.

The talent on the Reds roster is overwhelming. Injuries and inconsistencies have held them back. Their season is summed up by .500. They’re 60-60 overall, 5-5 in their last 10 games and have a 15-15 record against the NL West. Colorado fans would take average baseball in a heartbeat.

With Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips on the disabled list the Reds offense has lacked oomph. Third baseman Todd Fraizer has homered 20 times and Jay Bruce whose average sits at .224 is the only other hitter with double-digit home runs (12). Everyone knew Billy Hamilton was fast. The rookie has 44 stolen bases and is hitting .263/.295/.387 with six home runs and 43 RBI’s.

Cincinnati has averaged 3.16 runs-per game the second half of the season batting .224/.273/.334. Over their last six games they’re hitting .228/.291/364.

Speed Kills:

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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