It’s “re-opening day” as American Family Field is officially allowed full capacity starting today. Whether or not the stadium is actually full with one of the worst road teams in baseball coming to town remains to be seen, but it’s hard to fault the promotions department for trying something to take advantage of the lack of capacity limits.
Because of the promotion, we have a full series of afternoon games this weekend, with the first starting a little after 3 this afternoon.
As we saw last week, the Colorado Rockies are a completely different team at home (25-16) compared to on the road (6-28). Even the Arizona Diamondbacks setting a new major league record for consecutive road losses couldn’t get them to the Rockies’ level of ineptness on the road, which has been consistent all year. As a team, the Rockies are hitting .283/.341/.473 at Coors Field and just .197/.272/.301 on the road. Even for the Rockies’ historic standards, that’s extreme.
C.J. Cron was one of the players that punished the Brewers at Coors Field last weekend, but he’s a good example of the extreme home/road splits from the Rockies this year — and may be a cautionary tale for those who are bringing him up as a potential trade target for the Brewers. While Cron is hitting .271/.372/.489 overall so far this season, that’s being propped up by his .299/.385/.607 line at home, while he’s hit much more like — well, a Brewers first baseman this season — away from Coors Field with a .235/.354/.333 line.
It’s a similar Story for a guy who has traditionally killed the Brewers and may have been a trade target before the emergence of Willy Adames. Trevor Story is hitting .315/.370/.508 at Coors Field and .186/.284/.363 on the road — even more extreme than his career .305/.370/.612 vs. .245/.312/.439 home/road splits.
It should be noted that not every Rockies regular has this problem to that level — or even at all. Charlie Blackmon has actually hit better on the road this year, with a .281/.397/.385 line on the road compared to a .248/.346/.368 line at Coors Field.
The Probable Pitchers
Friday, 3:10 p.m. CDT - Jon Gray vs. Corbin Burnes
Gray could be entering his final few starts with the Rockies after being drafted third overall back in 2013, as his name has been brought up as one of the possible trade chips for Colorado during deadline season should they decide to tear it all down. Gray has had a, uh, rocky tenure with Colorado for much of his career — even getting sent down to the minors in recent years. He’s coming off an elbow scare to make this start this afternoon but has made 12 starts this year, putting up a 4.29 ERA to this point that’s lower than his 4.60 FIP — thanks in part to a 52.4% groundball rate that has kept the ball in the park. When he’s gotten into trouble this year, it’s because of the mix of a dropping strikeout rate and a rising walk rate that has put runners on for all those balls in play.
Saturday, 3:10 p.m. CDT - Antonio Senzatela vs. Adrian Houser
Senzatela held the Brewers to 3 earned runs over 6 innings when we saw him last weekend and actually outpitched Corbin Burnes in a game the Rockies eventually stole in extra innings. As we saw firsthand, he doesn’t throw very hard and won’t strike out many — even against the Brewers’ strikeout-prone offense — but can be very efficient and doesn’t walk many, allowing him to work around some scoring threats. With that said, the Brewers did record a dozen hard-hit balls of 100 mph+ exit velocities against him. Their issue in that game was the lack of offense against Colorado’s bullpen once he left the game, only collecting 2 hits in the game’s remaining 4 innings.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. CDT - Chi Chi Gonzalez vs. Eric Lauer
Speaking of pitchers that get hit hard. Gonzalez has been hit around more than just about any pitcher in baseball so far this year, and that continued last weekend against the Brewers when Milwaukee was able to salvage a split at Coors Field in this exact matchup. The Brewers tagged him for 6 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks in just 5.1 innings, pushing his ERA for the season above 6. He’s basically here to eat up innings and largely a sign the Rockies aren’t serious about trying to be competitive, as he’s been well below-average this year. If you missed the preview of last weekend’s series, Gonzalez is in the bottom 1% of pitchers in whiff rate and in the bottom 30% of the league in average exit velocity allowed. He basically throws batting practice, and he’s been even worse outside of the altitude of Colorado.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Savant and Fangraphs