Network Notebook: Rockies/Dodgers Series Preview
CAN THE COLORADO ROCKIES SLOW DOWN THE RED-HOT LOS ANGELES DODGERS
This was a series baseball fans had circled awhile ago. The Colorado Rockies have been playing excellent baseball all season, seemingly establishing their bona fides as a playoff caliber team. The Los Angeles Dodgers have been co-favorites to win the National League along with the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, despite only starting the season 22-18.
Well, the Dodgers are 26-8 since that slow start (including 13 of their last 14), and look to be playing on a whole different level than the rest of the senior circuit. Colorado is still in the driver's seat to at least reach the playoffs because there are so few true contenders this season. But, dropping two of three at home to Arizona (another likely playoff team from the NL West) has raised some doubts about whether the Rockies are capable of dodging the Wildcard round and winning this division.
Needless to say, big drama in Hollywood this weekend as the Rockies are in town for a three-game set. Let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats to see how things might play out.
Colorado: +58 runs, while playing 37 home games and 38 road games
LA Dodgers: +123 runs, while playing 39 home games and 35 road games
Wow...that's a huge run differential for a team that hasn't yet reached the midway point of the season, particularly one that plays in a home ballpark that has a tendency to favor pitchers. But, as you saw against the Mets...these bats are so lethal that the Dodgers can run up the score anywhere. That data suggests Colorado is a legitimate playoff team, but the Dodgers are a legitimate World Championship threat. No flukes here.
Colorado: 5.3 runs-per-game, .333 on-base, .446 slugging
LA Dodgers: 5.2 runs-per-game, .339 on-base, .440 slugging
At first glance, that seems pretty even. But, Colorado gets to play its home games in great scoring conditions...so it's actually a one-sided edge for the Dodgers once you make that adjustment. The Dodgers get on base and drive the ball hard. Colorado can only do that at altitude as a general rule. This would be probably about a half-a-run edge for LAD in a neutral park.
Now, we move on to probable pitchers...
Freeland: 3.42 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.5 K's per 9 innings
Wood: 1.90 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 10.5K's per 9 innings
Freeland has a good ERA, but is clearly playing with fire given that high WHIP and low strikeout rate. Even if you adjust for his home park, he's still going to be vulnerable against top offenses. Wood has been fantastic, adding velocity and movement to his pitches. To this point in the season, he's been another Clayton Kershaw. Like the Dodgers needed another one of those. Big edge to the hosts...but the market has made them a pricey favorite. Can Freeland's good fortune continue as a big dog?
Chatwood: 4.08 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.4 K's per 9 innings
Kershaw: 2.61 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 10.0 K's per 9 innings
Kershaw has become more home-run prone with the livelier baseballs. But, he's still getting a ton of K's while rarely walking anyone. That's a great ERA considering all the home runs he's allowed! Another clear edge to the hosts, though Chatwood deserves respect for posting that ERA and WHIP with a home park anvil. Colorado's been legit this season because their pitching has been getting job done in context.
Marquez: 3.92 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.2 K's per 9 innings
McCarthy: 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.2 K's per 9 innings
Can McCarthy keep pitching this well? You might as well hand the NL pennant to the Dodgers now if he can. Nothing like having a great offense behind you to inspire confidence and control. Marquez has had a really solid season once you adjust for the home park. This is obviously the best chance for the Rockies to grab a win this weekend. The rotation was stacked against them...which it would be in a playoff series. Is this the week Colorado's bubble bursts and they realize they're not quite ready for prime time just yet? How big a confidence-builder would it be if they could bounce back from the bad Arizona series to take at least two of three in Chavez Ravine?
JIM HURLEY generally shies away from games with big favorites. So, it's too early to say if NETWORK will have much involvement with this series. There are other juicy possibilities around MLB...including some recent trends and tendencies that the betting markets have been very slow to account for. Sign up for service so you can get THE BEST PLAYS ON THE BOARD!
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Back with you Monday to preview the huge Chicago Cubs/Washington Nationals series that begins that night. It's a four-game set! We're in the middle of a National League stretch that feels very much like the playoffs. That makes for exciting baseball and great betting opportunities.
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