Colorado Rockies: 3 keys to split the Astros home-and-home series

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 15: A general view as the sun sets over the stadium during the fifth inning of a game between the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 15, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 15: A general view as the sun sets over the stadium during the fifth inning of a game between the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 15, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Rockies were swept in their first two games in Houston against the Astros. To win against the Astros at Coors Field, they will have to make some changes.

The Colorado Rockies have fallen tough times lately as they have lost seven out of their last nine games, dropping their overall season record to 13–10. Meanwhile, their biggest rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are on a seven-game winning streak and the Arizona Diamondbacks are right on the Rockies heels in the NL West as they have won their last six games, pulling them within 1/2 a game of the Rockies for second place.

Before a huge weekend series against the Dodgers, the Rockies will face the Houston Astros in two games at Coors Field and there are three keys to winning the series.

The bats must wake up

Blame the home plate umpire all you want for calls going against the Rockies but it’s hard to blame umpires when the umpires are getting 95 percent or more of the pitches correct.

Has there been some questionable strike or ball calls in recent games? Yes, there has been but all teams have to deal with adversity to win.

A team slash line of .194/.243/.309 in your last five games and scoring two runs or less in three of those five games isn’t going to help.

Overall on the season, the Rockies now only have three players with an OPS+/wRC+ of league average or better. Those players are Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and Garrett Hampson. For even a shortened 60 game season, you can’t have three players carrying your entire offense.

As Rox Pile’s Duane DaPron pointed out in this article on Wednesday morning, eight of the Rockies’ 10 losses in the 2020 campaign have come when the Rockies were trailing by only one or two runs. That points to a lack of situational hitting late in games.

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Getting through to the young Astros starters

In the two games at Coors Field, the Astros are slated to have two young starting pitchers: a pitcher who entered the season with 107 2/3 innings pitched at the MLB level and a rookie.

The former pitcher is left-hander Framber Valdez, who is slated to start on Wednesday. He has pitched well in 2020 as he has an ERA of 1.90 in 4 games (3 starts) and he has a FIP of 2.55. He has a record of 1-2, though, indicating that the Astros anemic offense on the season (92 OPS+) has not provided him much run support.

The latter pitcher is right-hander Cristian Javier, who made his MLB debut this season. In 5 games (4 starts), he has an ERA of 2.91 (FIP of 4.58). He is allowing an average of fewer than five hits per nine innings but he is allowing nearly two home runs per nine innings, which is a troublesome stat.

With the “Coors Field” effect, perhaps their young pitchers will be able to get through to them.

Have the starting pitching keep doing what they’re doing

Even during this skid of the Rockies where they’ve lost seven of their last nine games, the Rockies starting pitching has been excellent.

In those games, the Rockies starters have an ERA of 3.02, averaging more than 6 1/3 innings per game, and nearly a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Overall, on the season, the Rockies pitching staff has an ERA of 3.25 while averaging more than 5 2/3 innings per start with an opponent batting average of .230 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.37:1.

According to the Rockies PR team, on Tuesday, Antonio Senzatela became only the third pitcher in Rockies franchise history to throw at least eight scoreless innings and not get a win.

Next. Matt Kemp on Bud Black's managerial style. dark

In other words, as you know by now, the Rockies’ recent woes are not because the starting pitching has struggled: it’s because the offense has.

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