Series Preview: Braves At Rockies

Dustin Bradford

It was a pretty bad week for Atlanta last week, as a mini-sweep at the hands of the currently 33-29 Seattle Mariners and a series loss to a last-place quality team in the form of the 28-37 Arizona Diamondbacks made for a bummer of a week. On the bright side, the Braves scored 3 or more in each game at hitter-friendly Chase Field, and now they'll be making a 4-game trip to the most hitter-friendly ballpark in all of baseball: Coors Field in Denver, the home of the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies as a team are currently hitting .284/.334/.465 with 80 HRs and 105 wRC+, which is good for 12.7 batter fWAR, which is the best in the National League. As expected, their home numbers are pretty stellar, with .331/.379/.538 with 45 HRs and 124 wRC+. Obviously, the big bopper in the Rockies lineup is Troy Tulowitzki, who is currently leading the National League with 4.6 fWAR. His overall numbers have been great (.361/.458/.688, 17 HRs, 197 wRC+), but his home numbers have been absurd. I hope you're sitting down because what I'm about to cite will make your heart skip a beat. At home, Tulo has been hitting .500/.569/.939 with 11 HRs and 283 wRC+. It's almost as if he's been trying to beat the white off of the ball at Coors Field.

Now, you'd think that this would mean that the Rockies would be surging to the top of the NL West thanks to the rest of the team being a force at home. That hasn't exactly been the case, and it's mostly due to injury. The Rockies will definitely be missing OF Carlos Gonzalez, OF Michael Cuddyer, and 3B Nolan Arenado due to various ailments. That's a pretty good chunk of their offense on the shelf, but OFs Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson have both done their part to keep the Rockies above water. Even Justin Morneau has contributed to their cause with 10 HRs and 113 wRC+.

Of course, when you play in a park like Coors Field, pitching will be an issue, and it's definitely been an issue for the Rockies. Their best pitcher by fWAR, Jordan Lyles (5-1, 3.52 ERA, 3.86 FIP) is currently on the 15-day DL, and they've got a few more arms (Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, and Boone Logan) on the DL as well. As a result, the Rockies as a pitching staff have had a bit of a struggle, with a 4.62 ERA and FIP, which surges to 4.84 and 4.81 FIP at home. Combine that with the fact that the Rockies seems to have something of a patchwork rotation going for this series (Christian Bergman will be making his MLB debut for the Rockies on Monday and Eddie Butler will be making his 2nd career start on Wednesday (EDIT: He won't be, he's been put on the DL with shoulder inflammation)) then simply put, there will be ample opportunity for Atlanta to score runs in this series. If Atlanta can't figure out a way to score against the crew that the Rockies have going for the next 4 games, then that'll probably indicate that something may be seriously wrong with our boys.

Despite the fact that their pitching is currently in a bit of a scrambled state, Colorado's defense has actually been pretty good. The Rockies are currently 3rd in NL DRS with 22, and they lead the NL in UZR/150 with 7.9 as a team. This isn't a team that's gonna beat itself by booting the ball around and throwing bounce passes as if they were Magic Johnson on a fast break, and judging by the numbers, the Braves' bats will have to find gaps because if a ball gets close to a Rockie, it'll probably result in an out. Once again, they lost a big chunk of defensive quality with the loss of Arenado, but 2B DJ LeMahieu has made up for a bit of light hitting by flashing the leather in a major way at 2nd base. Also, Tulo is currently leading the Rockies in DRS with 11. He's basically a Swiss Army Knife because he is useful in so many ways. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Rockies rob the Braves of a few runs, but hopefully the Braves will be able to take advantage of the park conditions and the pitching and put a few balls over the fence so that they won't be able to be robbed.

Overall, the Rockies are not a bad team, and should give the Braves some problems, especially considering that the Braves haven't exactly been doing well against teams outside of the NL East. With that being said, the Braves have had fun in their past 3 annual visits to Denver; Atlanta is 7-3 at Coors since 2011, and they've scored 7 or more runs in 6 of those 10 games. Once again, with the Rockies starting rotation currently in the state that it's in, this could be a pretty good chance for Atlanta to really get their offense going, even if it'll be aided by the thin air of Denver.

Results wise, this will probably end up like the series between these two in Atlanta did, with the Braves taking the majority of the wins. This time, you should expect to see a lot more offense from both sides. If you dig the long ball (and I mean, really, who doesn't?), then this is a must-watch series for you.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Monday, June 9th at 8:40 PM EST

Gavin Floyd (ATL, 0-2, 2.80 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 0.6 fWAR)
Vs.
Christian Bergman (COL, 4-4, 3.84 ERA, 4.50 FIP with AAA Colorado Springs SkySox; Making MLB Debut)

Tuesday, June 10th at 8:40 PM EST

Mike Minor (ATL, 2-4, 3.07 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 0.3 fWAR)
Vs.
Juan Nicaso (COL, 5-4, 4.68 ERA, 5.08 FIP, 0.3 fWAR)

Wednesday, June 11th at 8:40 PM EST

Julio Teheran (ATL, 6-3, 1.89 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.1 fWAR)
Vs.
Eddie Butler (COL, 0-1, 5.1 IP, 10.13 ERA, 4.02 FIP) TBA

Thursday, June 12th at 3:10 PM EST

Ervin Santana (ATL, 5-2, 3.69 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.1 fWAR)
Vs.
Jhoulys Chacin (COL, 0-4, 5.35 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 0.3 fWAR)

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