Having lost four of five after winning 10 in a row, the Braves head to the Mile High City to battle the Rockies. Atlanta's road trip hasn't gotten off to a sizzling start, losing their last three in a row in Pittsburgh. Colorado, on the other hand, has been streaking: before their loss Sunday, the team's first home loss in nine games, they had run off eight straight wins. Both the Braves and Rockies can lay claim to the best record so far in 2013 at 13-5, and fans can expect both a literal and figurative snowstorm this week: these are the top two home run-hitting teams in the Majors, but Mother Nature intends to intervene. According to the Denver Post, a winter storm watch has been reported for Monday with as much as eight inches of snow predicted to fall.
The Rockies, led by new manager and former Braves shortstop Walt Weiss, lead the NL in batting average (.282), slugging (.482), and OPS (.833) and are second in OBP (.351) and runs scored (104). Of course, playing at Coors Field certainly helps, and the offense has certainly fattened up on some of the lesser teams on their schedule. To the surprise of no one, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki lead the barrage. CarGo leads the team with a robust .364 avg. and Tulowitzki sports a .328 avg., but Gonzalez has been the hotter of the two with 14 hits in his last eight games; Tulowitzki has three home runs and six RBI in his last four games. Gonzalez (4th) and Tulowitzki (3rd) are two of the four Rockies hitters among the top 10 in the NL in slugging percentage; Michael Cuddyer (10th) and Dexter Fowler (8th) are the other two. They're producing despite veteran Todd Helton suffering from a strained left forearm; he last played on Friday and is considered day-to-day.
The team's 3.87 ERA may not seem that impressive, but considering where they play their home games, it's certainly an improvement. What's bewildering, though, is that their home ERA (2.85) is actually lower than on the road (4.92). The same cannot be said of the bullpen, which sports a gaudy 4.35 ERA.
Colorado's best starter by far has been Jhoulys Chacin. He was Colorado's Opening Day starter and was seventh in the NL with a 1.46 ERA. Chacin was scheduled to pitch Wednesday's afternoon contest, but has been placed on the DL with a lower back strain. According to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, one of either Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz or veteran Aaron Cook will be recalled to start Wednesday.
This could certainly be a tough series for the Braves. Mike Minor was roughed up in his only other start at Coors Field, but that was the old Mike Minor, so we'll have to see if the new and improved Minor fares any better; Tim Hudson has never pitched well in Denver, winless in five starts with an 8.04 ERA. Teheran has never pitched against the Rockies, but the combination of his recent struggles with Colorado's offense does not bode well. The offense could, however, receive a boost from the returning Freddie Freeman. He is expected to return to the lineup in this series and has slaughtered Rockies pitching: .351 avg., 8 HR, 18 RBI in 15 career games; .406 avg., 4 HR, 11 RBI in seven games at Coors Field.
Monday, April 22, 8:40 p.m. ET
#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Dec 26, 1987
|2013 - Mike Minor||2-1||0.95||0.84||16||1|
#26 / Pitcher / Colorado Rockies
Jan 08, 1981
|2013 - Jeff Francis||1-1||8.25||2.33||11||7|
Tuesday, April 23, 8:40 p.m. ET
#49 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jan 27, 1991
|2013 - Julio Teheran||0-0||7.31||1.75||12||7|
#27 / Pitcher / Colorado Rockies
Sep 27, 1979
|2013 - Jon Garland||2-0||3.32||1.00||10||3|
Wednesday, April 24, 3:10 p.m. ET
#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves
Jul 14, 1975
|2013 - Tim Hudson||2-1||4.50||1.32||15||7|
Rockies scheduled starter TBD.