Former Future Yankee Nolan Arenado

The Rockies head to the Bronx for the first time since June 21-22, 2016, giving the Yankees a brief interlude between AL contenders.

Their Story Thus Far

At 46-50, the Rockies are an astounding 16.5 games back in their division, though they trail the NL’s second wild card by just 3.5 games. Unfortunately for Colorado, the team has lost 11 of 13 and is sliding into this series.

Colorado hits .266/.325/.456 as a team, good for an 85 wRC+ when you play half your games at Coors Field. As the road team, they have a league-worst .652 OPS and 67 wRC+. Reminder: Rockies hitters struggle away from Coors as that adjustment is hard.

Meanwhile, their pitching staff is the middle of the pack in WAR, though they have a 5.44 ERA. Away from Coors, they have a 3.96 ERA, the fourth best road ERA. This is an above-average pitching staff when not weighed down by the home park.

Injury Report

LHPs Tyler Anderson and 2B Brendan Rodgers are on the 60-day IL. Reliever Seungwhan Oh is on the 10-day IL. Meanwhile, OF David Dahl left Wednesday’s game with an injury. That’s it for the Rockies.

Player Spotlight: Charlie Blackmon

No one represents the Coors Field effect more than All-Star right fielder Charlie Blackmon. The left-handed bat hits a preposterous .415/.470/.848 line with 16 home runs in just 38 home games. On the road, he bats just .227/.261/.369 with four homers and a 32 tOPS+ (OPS relative to rest of your statline).

The outfielder signed an extension before last season and is set to be in Colorado through at least 2021, with player options for the following two seasons. He led baseball in runs scored in both 2017 and 2018 and is now a four-time All-Star.

Blackmon isn’t a Hall of Famer, but he’s not just a product of Coors Field either. He was good enough to warrant a top-5 MVP finish two seasons ago while driving in 104 runs from the leadoff spot. That’s where he’ll bat this series,

Potential Lineup

For all players, I’m going to show their overall stat line on the left and their road slash line on the right.

  1. Charlie Blackmon, RF (.318//.365/.600, .227/.261/.369)
  2. Trevor Story, SS (.288/.351/.558, .261/.324/.460)
  3. Nolan Arenado, 3B (.307/.370/.548, .258/.325/.494)
  4. David Dahl, LF (.303/.350/.523, .245/.278/.444)
  5. Ian Desmond, CF (.269/.322/.495, .231/.286/.446)
  6. Daniel Murphy, 1B (.288/.341/.481, .239/.289/.460)
  7. Ryan McMahon, 2B (.263/.334/.431, .211/.286/.333)
  8. Mark Reynolds, DH (.176/.297/.321, .167/.263/.273)
  9. Tony Wolters, C (.290/.356/.378, .299/.355/.423)

Wolters is the only starter with the reverse split. On the bench, the Rockies have backup catcher Chris Iannetta (80 wRC+), outfielder Raimel Tapia (84 wRC+), who should get 1-2 starts despite NYY’s lefties, and infielder Garret Hampson (28 wRC+).

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05 PM ET) J.A. Happ (vs. Rockies) vs. Kyle Freeland (vs. Yankees)

The year-over-year change for Kyle Freeland is mind-blowing: The left-hander went from a fourth-place finish in the Cy Young last season to an extended Triple-A stint in half a year.

Freeland returned to the Major Leagues on Saturday and was hit around by the Reds at Coors Field, raising his ERA from 7.13 to 7.39. He’s slightly better away from home with a 5.04 ERA, but that’s still nearly double his 2.85 mark for the 2018 season.

His stuff (fastball, slider, changeup) just hasn’t been the same in 2019 and there isn’t a fantastic explanation. He appeared to be the pitcher who conquered Coors last year while starting the NL Wild Card Game and now is barely holding a Major League spot.

Freeland (Baseball Savant)

Saturday (1:05 PM ET) Masahiro Tanaka (vs. Rockies) vs. Antonio Senzatela (vs. Yankees)

Senzatela is the next member of Colorado’s young rotation that will face the Yankees. He’s just 24 despite this being his third MLB season. The right-hander has seen his results slip, albeit nowhere near Freeland’s levels.

An above-average pitcher by ERA+ in past seasons, he has a 5.79 ERA this year (5.43 FIP, 4.88 road ERA). The difference for him has been a rise in walks and reduction in strikeouts, cutting his K:BB ratio from 2.30 to 1.21. His hard-hit rate (43.9 percent) and strikeout rate (12.5 percent) are in the bottom six and bottom one percent of baseball, respectively.

The right-hander goes at hitters with his mid-90s fastball about two-thirds of the time with a mid-80s slider as his primary offspeed offering. He’ll also work in a mid-80s changeup and a high-70s curveball. The slider has been his lone effective pitch this season.

Senzatela (Baseball Savant)

Sunday (1:05 PM ET) James Paxton (vs. Rockies) vs. German Marquez (vs. Yankees)

Marquez is the pitcher that Colorado fans are dreaming on, the one who has the potential to be an ace, yet has been held back by, you guessed it, his home park. Through 130 innings this season, he has a 5.12 ERA with a 3.33 ERA away from Coors Field. His batting average against at home is .336 while it falls to .205 on the road. Day and night.

The right-hander is coming off a start at home in which he allowed 11 runs and got just eight outs to open a doubleheader. Yikes. It was clear from the start that he didn’t have it against the Giants, who made him pay in a 19-2 loss.

Marquez excels by limiting free passes, tying for 10th in walk rate at 5.1 percent. He can go deep into games and attacks with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball, 87-mph slider and mid-80s curveball. The curve has been his best pitch this season while his slider has loss effectiveness.

Marquez (Baseball Savant)

Bullpen Status

Closer Wade Davis has a 0.79 ERA on the road … and a 9.53 mark at home. However, he isn’t the same old dominant Davis, as his peripherals aren’t great on the road either. (Side Note: Lincoln shouldn’t have pocket vetoed the Wade Davis bill.)

Scott Oberg has been tremendous for the Rockies with a 1.35 ERA this year and should see some big spots for Colorado. Righties Bryan Shaw and Chad Bettis, as well as former Ray Jake McGee, are in middle relief.

They’re joined in the bullpen by righties Jairo Diaz, Carlos Estevez and Yency Almonte. Of those, Almonte (and perhaps Bettis) would be most likely to soak up multiple innings.

Yankees Connections

This will be DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino’s first series against the Rockies since leaving for New York last offseason. Meanwhile, former Yankee Mark Reynolds is a bench bat for Colorado and could DH some in this series.

The Yankees and Rockies exchanged players this offseason with Mike Tauchman coming to the Bronx and MiLB southpaw Phillip Diehl going to Colorado. Diehl has made his MLB debut but is back in the Minors right now.