Series Preview: Rockies at Brewers

Tulowitzki

Rockies Lineup: Marco Scutaro – 2B
Dexter Fowler – CF
Carlos Gonzalez – LF
Troy Tulowitzki – SS
Todd Helton – 1B
Michael Cuddyer – RF
Ramon Hernandez – C    
Chris Nelson – 3B Game One: Shaun Marcum vs. Jhoulys Chacin After a very good start last Saturday that was spoiled by a lack of run support, Marcum will hope his teammates have more success against Jhoulys Chacin than they did with Mike Minor.

Once a well-regarded prospect, the 24-year old Chacin settled into the Rockies rotation last year. The right-hander’s primary pitch is a low 90s four-seam fastball, though he trots out a fair number of two-seamers as well. Chacin apparently is a big fan of his slider, which he throws almost 20% of the time. He rounds out his arsenal with a changeup and curve, the least prevalent of his five offerings. 

Hitters haven’t had much success elevating Chacin’s pitches (52.3% career ground ball rate), or hitting for power (.82 home runs per nine). However, he has hurt himself by fighting a consistent losing battle with the strike zone: His 4.04 walks per nine last year represented an improvement upon his career norms. (Strangely, though, his minor league walk rate was nearly a run and a half lower. And with the equivalent of two full seasons in the big leagues, this doesn’t appear to be an issue of sample size.)  

Game Two: (Probably) Marco Estrada vs. Drew Pomeranz If you missed the news from a couple hours ago, Chris Narveson is on the 15-day DL (and possibly out for the season) with a torn rotator cuff. Long reliever Marco Estrada and near-ready prospect Wily Peralta were the two main candidates to replace him in the rotation, and it looks like Estrada will get the nod for now, though Peralta was called up in the place of Kameron Loe. However, given that he’s been working exclusively as a reliever, it’s hard to see Estrada filling anything close to a full starter’s workload.

His opponent, Drew Pomeranz, came to Colorado by way of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal.  Pomeranz throws a solid fastball around 89-93 mph (his velocity readings in college were higher) and an excellent 12-6 curve. Beyond that, his repertoire is a little shallow – Pomeranz has a changeup, but he threw it less than 10% of the time as a big leaguer — but that mainly reflects on his relative inexperience, as well as the lack of a need for the pitch in college or the low minors.

Pomeranz hasn’t missed many bats in his brief time in the majors (6.35 K/9), but he has been very stingy with the free pass at every level he has played at, save for some wildness to start this year. However, in his case, the sample is small enough that it’s best not to draw bold conclusions on data alone. 

     
Game Three: Yovani Gallardo vs. Jeremy Guthrie

After a strong start against the Dodgers, Gallardo will do battle with Jeremy Guthrie.

“Opening Day starter” has a lot of glamorous connotations to it, but most of them aren’t typically used to describe Guthrie — from a statistical standpoint, he’s far from an ace. Guthrie is right-handed, hasn’t managed six strikeouts per nine since 2007, and gives up a disproportionate number of fly balls, making for consistently high home run totals. However, he also has exemplary control, and the fly balls also allow Guthrie to maintain a BABIP much lower than your typical pitcher.

To make things weirder, Guthrie also has very good stuff for a midrotation starter. He can pump his fastball up to around 95, and is able use a hard sinker to good effect. He possesses a full arsenal of off-speed stuff as well, including a low 80s slider and change, and an authentic slow curveball. (Brooks Baseball has a pretty interesting tool that calculates a kind of pitcher similarity score based on Pitch F/X data. Guthrie’s best comparable? Zack Greinke.) Guthrie is the kind of pitcher that could easily go toe-to-toe with Gallardo on a good night, but there’s also the distinct possibility of the start Randy Wolf usually ends of having when he can’t keep the ball down in the zone.

    

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