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Colorado Rockies Series Preview: Maybe the Royals can hit some home runs at altitude

The Rockies find themselves above .500 with a negative run differential and in last place. Is that good or bad?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at San Francisco Giants Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockies are weird. On the surface, they feel an awful lot like last year’s Royals, who started the year with one of the best records in baseball but didn’t have the run differential to back it up. The question is are the Rockies more the Royals or last year’s Mariners. At just a game over .500 but with a run differential in line with much worse teams, it’s hard to say. They’re also weird because they traded away their star third baseman only to sign a player in Kris Bryant who probably isn’t as good for the same money they were going to pay the star. And they didn’t get back a crazy haul for the star either. But they’ve done a nice job of developing some starting pitching that can get it done in Coors Field and keeping that starting pitching. Weirdly enough, it’s been scoring runs that’s been trouble for them. They’ve been…fine this year. They score runs, but a lot of that is park related. I don’t know. I just don’t think they’re they’re that good. But they’re sort of interesting which is better than the team we follow here at Royals Review.

Royals vs. Rockies Matchup Stats

Category Royals Rockies
Category Royals Rockies
Winning % .345 .516
Team wRC+ 76 94
Team xFIP 4.41 4.08
Run Differential -42 -29
Highest fWAR Edward Olivares, 0.6 C.J. Cron, 1.2

Rockies Projected Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Connor Joe DH 132 .291 .371 .470 10.6% 15.9% 128 0.6
Charlie Blackmon RF 117 .219 .281 .390 7.7% 17.9% 79 -0.1
Randal Grichuk CF 96 .281 .323 .449 4.2% 28.1% 107 0.0
C.J. Cron 1B 128 .297 .344 .602 5.5% 25.8% 150 1.2
Ryan McMahon 3B 122 .243 .336 .383 9.8% 31.1% 97 0.5
Elias Diaz C 89 .232 .292 .378 7.9% 19.1% 80 0.0
Brendan Rodgers 2B 90 .169 .222 .241 5.6% 24.4% 22 -0.6
Sam Hilliard LF 65 .145 .262 .218 13.8% 27.7% 33 -0.3
Jose Iglesias SS 98 .319 .367 .407 4.1% 10.2% 111 0.3

Rockies Projected Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% wRC+ fWAR
Dom Nuñez C 32 .160 .313 .200 18.8% 18.8% 49 -0.2
Garrett Hampson INF/OF 27 .174 .269 .348 11.1% 29.6% 67 0.1
Yonathan Daza OF 52 .367 .404 .429 3.8% 7.7% 127 0.4

Rockies Key Relievers

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP fWAR
Daniel Bard 12 11.1 1 0 31.9% 6.4% 3.18 2.97 0.3
Alex Colome 10 9.2 1 0 8.7% 13.0% 5.59 5.53 0.0
Tyler Kinley 13 11.1 0 0 27.1% 10.4% 0.79 3.35 0.3

Royals vs. Rockies Pitching Matchups

May 13 - Zack Greinke vs. Kyle Freeland, 7:40pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Zack Greinke 6 33.2 0 2 7.5% 2.2% 2.67 4.82 0.6
Kyle Freeland 6 32.0 1 3 18.6% 6.4% 3.94 3.63 0.6

Zack Greinke has faced 87 hitters since his last walk. That seems dangerous to me in Colorado. For a guy without elite stuff who is around the zone, a park like this could be a problem for him. But he worked around trouble in his last start in Baltimore after he allowed 10 hits in 5.2 innings but just two runs. And now six starts into his return, he’s carrying a 2.67 ERA in spite of only having 10 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. It feels like this can’t continue, but it does keep continuing, so I guess we’ll just keep an eye out. Until that last start, he’d limited hits quite well and even with the onslaught, he’s allowed 34 hits in 33.2 innings, which isn’t terrible, especially when you factor in that he’s walked only three batters all year. He’s pitched quite a bit in Coors Field given his time in the NL West and he has a very respectable 4.01 ERA in 83 innings, so maybe he can keep it up.

Career vs COL: 36 G, 35 GS, 222.0 IP, 14-7, 3.53 ERA


Kyle Freeland is undoubtedly one of the Rockies biggest success stories in terms of developing pitching. He was their first round pick in 2014, reached the big leagues in 2017 and outside of a rough 2019, he’s been a well above average starting pitcher. He’s one of those rare true five-pitch pitchers. He throws his slider more than any other pitch, but only throws it about a quarter of the time. Oh, and it’s good. He also throws a curve that is generally good but has been known to hang, a fastball at 90-91 that’s been hit a bit this year and a changeup and a sinker. He has no discernable platoon split this season and has a predictable home/road split where he has a 5.57 ERA at home and a 0.82 ERA on the road. This game will be at home for him.

Career vs. KC: First Appearance

May 14 - Carlos Hernandez vs. German Marquez, 7:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Carlos Hernandez 5 22.2 0 2 9.3% 11.2% 7.15 5.62 0.0
German Marquez 6 32.0 0 3 17.7% 6.8% 6.47 3.61 0.1

Carlos Hernandez looked like he was on his way to a start that made us fall in love with him in 2021, but then he just absolutely imploded in the fifth inning in Baltimore and couldn’t get out of the inning. It appeared to be one of those innings where he had his issues and then he let them compound and made things far worse than they needed to be. That’s a struggle for young pitchers sometimes. I think Hernandez fell in love with his fastball a little too much in that outing, but the Rockies haven’t been great at home against 95 MPH+ heaters, so maybe that’s a pitch Hernandez can use a little more strategically in this one against them. In a park like Coors, you have to be able to let runs roll off your back a little, but it would be nice if his offense could help him out a bit too to take some of the pressure off.

Career vs. COL: First Appearance


German Marquez has been the apple of my eye when I think about potential trade candidates to help the Royals long-term, but the Rockies absolutely love him. And with good reason. He gives them quality innings and limits home runs reasonably well given that he pitches half his games in Coors Field and a couple more a year in Arizona. This year has been tough for him, though. His fastball is getting tagged to the tune of a .404 average and .638 slugging percentage. On the surface, the shape of the pitch isn’t any different, but he’s just not locating it well at all. His slider and curve have been fine, but his sinker is also getting hit very hard. This season lefties have destroyed him and he’s given up all six of his home runs at home. He’s been okay early in starts, but once he gets past the 20-25 pitch mark, it’s been a very real struggle for him.

Career vs. KC: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 0-0, 3.00 ERA

May 15 - Daniel Lynch vs. Austin Gomber, 2:10pm

Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Pitcher G IP W L K% BB% ERA xFIP WAR
Daniel Lynch 5 24.2 2 2 23.4% 8.4% 4.01 4.33 0.1
Austin Gomber 6 33.0 2 3 21.8% 7.5% 4.36 3.45 0.4

I love the swings and misses that we’ve seen from Lynch. I wrote on Inside the Crown on Monday that he was (at the time) the only Royals starter to have double-digit whiffs in a game. Brad Keller and Jon Heasley have now since done it, but Lynch has now done it four times after getting 17 against the Orioles. But that’s about the only positive from that start. He gave up 16 foul balls on 40 pitches with two strikes in the game. He threw 95 pitches and couldn’t get out of the fourth. He had his first rough game with walks and he limited the damage as much as he could, but he has to be better than that. The good news is that putting hitters away is the final step for him, in my opinion. It’s a tough step, but he’s got everything else going for him generally. If he can start putting hitters away and getting through those at bats a little faster, I think we’re close to seeing Lynch as the two or three type starter we envisioned before he came up last year.

Career vs. COL: First Appearance


The Rockies got Austin Gomber in the deal that sent Nolan Arenado to St. Louis and he was kind of panned as the headliner. He actually had a solid year for the Rockies, giving them 23 starts and he’s started this year roughly the same, so at least they have a solid arm for their rotation out of the deal. Gomber is another of those crafty-type lefties with a fastball that sits around 90 that he throws a bit more than 41 percent of the time. It’s been hit decently, but his slider has been a really good pitch for him. Then there’s his changeup. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, woof. He’s allowed a .421 average and .639 slugging percentage on that pitch. He also uses a curve that’s been very good. One thing that may not bode well for him long-term is that he’s allowed some runners, but then has been great with runners in scoring position. That tends to even out over time, so it’s likely to happen at some point.

Career vs. KC: 3 G, 2 GS, 12.2 IP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA

Royals vs. Rockies Prediction

I cannot predict a Royals series win until they actually win a series. That’s a rule I’ve created for myself. And I’m abiding by that rule. I’ll say the Royals grab one win in this series, but I have questions about all three games given the issues some of these starters have had. Greinke without the swing and miss concerns me in Colorado. Lynch has given up the long ball a bit. And Hernandez’s fastball has been extremely hittable. I’m sticking with one win, but this series could get bad if these starters don’t hold up.

SB Nation has partnered with DraftKings to sponsor select series previews this season. Here are the betting odds for this series. The Royals are a +1.5 run underdog tonight with a +120 moneyline, and an over/under of 10.5 runs scored in the game.

Poll

How many wins do the Royals get this weekend in Colorado?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    3
    (8 votes)
  • 18%
    2
    (22 votes)
  • 52%
    1
    (63 votes)
  • 23%
    0
    (28 votes)
121 votes total Vote Now