2011 Series Preview: Rockies vs. Diamondbacks (4/1-4/3)

It’s finally here. By it, I mean the grandest day of the entire year. The phrase “Opening Day” might as well be synonymous with hope. Every single team still has a chance to win it all — except for the Pirates and the Royals, obviously. Opening Day also marks the end of winter. Sure, there will be a few more chilly days, but, for the most part, the dark, chilly days of the season are done. Let’s discuss some meaningful baseball, shall we?

2010 Regular Season Record: 65-97, 5th in NL West (27.0 GB)
2011 Spring Training Record: 12-25, Last in Cactus League (12 GB)

2010 Regular Season Epic Melt-Down: 83-79, 3rd in NL West (9 GB)
2011 Spring Training Record: 20-11, 3rd in Cactus League (1 GB)

Pitching Matchups

Game 1 — Ian Kennedy vs. Ubaldo Jimenez

The selection of Ian as the opening day starter was somewhat surprising, but Kirk Gibson likes his presence on the mound. Kennedy doesn’t overwhelm hitters. He is most successful when he is able to spot his 88-91 MPH fastball. Ian has a decent curve and change. Last year, Kennedy was a small bright spot in a terrible D-backs rotation.

There isn’t much I can say about Ubaldo that hasn’t been said. He is a pre-season front runner for the NL Cy Young and easily the best pitcher ever to call Colorado home. Everyone expects him to start 2011 off with a bang. Shutting down an over aggressive D-backs lineup would be a great beginning.

Game 2 — Daniel Hudson vs. Jorge De La Rosa

At 24, Daniel Hudson is just a pup, especially for a pitcher. Hudson was drafted by the White Sox in 2008. He was traded to the Diamondbacks last season in exchange for Edwin Jackson. With the D-backs, he lived up to his billing as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. In 14 starts he had a 2.45 ERA over 95.1 innings. The White Sox have to be kicking themselves for giving up on a top prospect so early.

Georgie got paid this off-season. Now it’s time for him to earn it. The Rockies named him the number two starter even though Jhoulys Chacin might be better. They have a lot of confidence that Jorge will have a break-out season. He says he felt great this spring and is chomping at the bit to get going this year.

Game 3 — Joe Saunders vs. Jhoulys Chacin

Saunders was a key cog in last season’s Danny Haren trade. In 2008, he won 17 games for the Angels. In each of the last three seasons, he has been right around 30 starts and 200 innings. When he’s on, he is a groundball producer. However, he is coming off the worst season of his career and he is the type of pitcher that the Rox light up at home.

If Jhoulys makes thirty starts this year, the Rockies will be in business. He’s young and possesses immense potential, but this season he needs to take the next step. If he can harness his control and stay healthy, the Rockies will have the best pitching staff in franchise history.

Diamondbacks Hottest Hitter — Ryan Roberts

The versatile Roberts is coming off one hell of a spring, in which he hit a robust .509 in 53 at-bats. Granted, it’s just spring training, but it was important for Roberts. 2010 was a disappointing season for Ryan and it was nice to see him bounce back with such an impressive spring.

Rockies Hottest Hitter — Jonathan Herrera

Herrera won’t get the start in the opener, but he’s been terrific all spring. He led the Rox in spring at-bats while compiling a .372 batting average with four doubles and four triples. Jim Tracy loves Herrera. He will play a bunch this year.

Biggest Question:

No need to answer any of the team’s questions in the opening series. The Rox need to take two of these games — it’s that simple.

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Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Colorado Rockies Daniel Hudson Diamondbacks-Rockies Series Preview Ian Kennedy Jhoulys Chacin Joe Saunders Jonathan Herrera Jorge De La Rosa Opening Day Opening Series Ryan Roberts Ubaldo Jimenez

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