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Royals series preview: The Colorado Rockies

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The probably decent Rox come to town

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Colorado Rockies
Welcome back, Greg
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Though neither team stands much of a chance of winning their division, this series pitting the Royals against the visiting Rockies features two squads very much in the playoff picture, though the Rockies at 68-56 are markedly more deserving of this distinction than the 62-61 Royals. Trailing the National League West's certain champs the Los Angeles Dodgers by 20 games, the Rockies' path to the playoffs is solely via the Wild Card. They currently hold the top Wild Card spot by a game over the Arizona Diamondbacks with just the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals the only other NL teams with records over .500.

The game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Tuesday, August 22, 7:15 PM CDT - Jon Gray versus Danny Duffy (L)
  • Wednesday, August 23, 7:15 PM CDT - Antonio Senzatela versus Ian Kennedy
  • Thursday, August 24, 1:15 PM CDT - German Márquez versus Jake Junis

Rockies at Royals pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Jon Gray 12 62.2 60 22.1 20 7.4 4.74 3.63 3.63 3.99 1.5 1.2
Danny Duffy (L) 20 125.0 109 21.0 33 6.4 3.82 3.42 4.44 4.32 3.0 2.8
Antonio Senzatela 25 116.1 89 18.5 39 8.1 4.56 4.72 4.33 4.55 1.1 2.2
Ian Kennedy 23 122.2 105 20.4 49 9.5 5.06 5.26 5.13 4.80 0.3 0.9
German Márquez 21 119.0 113 22.1 38 7.4 4.24 4.01 4.21 4.23 2.4 3.0
Jake Junis 12 52.1 42 18.2 17 7.4 4.99 5.39 5.44 4.79 0.0 0.2

Though two of the Rockies' trio of hurlers sport an ERA over 4.50, these aren't the forgettable cannon fodder of Colorado rotations of yore. Gray was stellar in 2016, and though injuries have limited him to 62.2 innings on the season, he’s been solid again while pitching half his games in Coors Field. His stuff is still very much the stuff that saw him drafted third overall out of the University of Oklahoma in 2013, three years after the Royals took him in the 13th and were unable to sign him out of high school. Márquez has been solid in his first full season in the majors. After a cup of coffee last year, Marquez has maintained a 14.7 K-BB%, a mark that along with his K% and BB% is identical to Gray’s. The difference on the ledger between the two has been Márquez’s roughly average BABIP (.302) while Gray has suffered the ignominy of a .357 mark which has helped add half a run to his ERA from where Márquez’s stands.

Senzatela started the season strong, posting a 2.86 ERA and 4.18 FIP in his first seven starts. Since May 14, however, his fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. In his last 72.1 innings, Senzatela has posted a 5.60 ERA with a 5.05 FIP, being largely undone by a 23.3 HR/FB%, after posting just one start with a game score (version 2) over 51 over his next eight turns, he was demoted to the bullpen. His start in Kansas City will mark just his fourth spot start since the demotion following his June 22 start.

Colorado Rockies position players

Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Charlie Blackmon (L) CF 560 29 115 78 12 .336 .399 .620 .421 143 5.0 4.4
Nolan Arenado 3B 525 27 79 105 3 .312 .366 .592 .395 126 4.3 5.8
Gerardo Parra (L) LF 300 10 45 59 0 .343 .373 .520 .376 114 1.6 1.4
Mark Reynolds 1B 477 26 71 84 2 .280 .367 .513 .373 112 0.9 1.1
Pat Valaika Util 156 10 24 31 0 .269 .296 .545 .348 95 0.8 0.3
DJ LaMahieu 2B 518 4 74 52 6 .312 .376 .393 .337 88 0.8 1.7
Trevor Story SS 406 18 50 56 5 .225 .303 .422 .308 69 0.5 1.7
Jonathan Lucroy C 57 0 4 3 0 .318 .456 .432 .394 126 0.5 0.3
Mike Tauchman (L) RF 15 0 0 1 0 .182 .400 .182 .302 65 -0.1 -0.2
Ryan Hanigan C 107 2 8 12 0 .250 .311 .333 .277 49 -0.2 -0.1
Alexi Amarista (L) Util 155 3 17 19 1 .236 .266 .358 .268 43 -1.0 -1.3
Carlos González (L) RF 416 8 48 40 3 .245 .313 .366 .293 59 -1.8 -1.6

The Rockies have their fair share of mashers, at least at first glance. Of course they’ve also got Carlos González on pace for a -2.0 WAR season by either measure of WAR. Their .333 wOBA is the fourth-best mark in baseball, which is initially worrisome, but their 84 wRC+ suggests their offense is actually seven percent worse than the Royals’ offense. Call it the Coors Field effect. Away from home the Rockies have the third-worst wOBA in baseball at just .299, slashing just .250/.312/.382. The Royals are fortunate enough to be facing the Rockies at Kauffman where their decent hitters aren’t made superhuman by their proximity to the sun. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado are obviously very good, but the rest of the lineup could very well struggle to do much, even against the two subpar pitchers the Royals will throw out there in the last two games of the series.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Rockies?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Royals sweep
    (52 votes)
  • 49%
    Royals take two of three
    (102 votes)
  • 17%
    Rockies take two of three
    (37 votes)
  • 8%
    Rockies sweep
    (17 votes)
208 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Monday, August 21 .

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