After the big series win against San Francisco last weekend, the Colorado Rockies head into their first big 10 game stretch of the season. The month of April has been very good to the Rockies, with the team looking like a team to breakout.
Colorado had a strong 4-2 record on its first west coast road trip of the season, and coming home with a share of the NL West lead. The Rockies will now roll a 10 game run of San Francisco (3), Washington (4), and at Arizona for three. Let’s take a look ahead.
April 21 – 23, San Francisco Giants @ Colorado Rockies
After losing three games to the Rockies last weekend, the Giants head to Denver without the benefit of Madison Bumgarner taking the hill. Though the year is young, another series loss will push them six games back of the Rockies. Yes, five months is plenty of time for the Giants to overcome it, but the more confidence the Rockies have, the better.
The best pitching matchup of the series takes place on Friday night with Johnny Cueto squaring up against Tyler Chatwood. Chatwood is coming off his best start ever which saw him flirt with perfection in a two-hit shutout against these Giants. Chatwood’s game plan is likely to be the same, but don’t expect the same success, though he should get deep in the game.
Cueto is a number one starter that just happens to be on a team with one of the top 3 or 4 pitchers in baseball. Rockies core hitters have hit Cueto well, combining for a .294 average between Blackmon, LeMahieu, Cargo, and Arenado.
April 24 – 27, Washington Nationals @ Colorado Rockies
The Nationals are the leaders in the NL East and a postseason team from 2016. The Rockies have played two of the five postseason from 2016, but both were in house division rivals. This visit by the Nationals will be another stepping stone for Colorado to see where they stand amongst the best teams in the National League.
The Nats will bring the league’s best batting average and OPS to the mile high, along with a pitching staff that’s underperforming. Rockies pitchers need to keep the ball low in the zone and induce groundballs, and do everything they can to keep Bryce Harper from getting the barrel on the ball. Colorado’s hitters should take advantage of the lackluster start to the year for the Nats pitching staff. Rockies bats are beginning to show some life, look for the Rox bats to chase Nationals pitching early and often.
April 28 – 30, Colorado Rockies @ Arizona Diamondbacks
When we looked at the schedule before the season started, we noted that the month of April was full of NL West games. Little did we know that the biggest series of the month would be the trip to the desert against the Diamondbacks. If both clubs stay the course with their current play, this will be an early season matchup for first place in the division. Both teams know that Los Angeles and San Francisco aren’t going to be struggling much longer, so getting a bigger lead in the division will be crucial to both.
Arizona is in the top 10 for both batting average and earned run average, for not just the national league, but all of baseball. This shows incredible balance for a team not expected to be competitive yet. Coming into the season, many predicted Arizona would be competitive, but not leading the division even just a month into the season. With Paul Goldschmidt leading the charge on offense, Colorado should use the same approach to Arizona as the do the Nationals. Low in the zone, pitch around the superstar, and avoid fly balls.
Rockies hitters need to be aggressive, attack first pitches from the starters, and especially the Diamondback bullpen. Charlie Blackmon has been a tough out for everyone, expect him to set the tone for the team and the series. Nolan Arenado has started turning on the ball again, showcasing the power that has led him to back to back HR titles.
As the Rockies set their eyes on May, this ten game stretch will help determine how much confidence the club will have heading into May. Ideally 7-3 would be the ceiling, whereas 5-5 would still be considered a success in this stretch of games for the team. If the club can do that, April showers will bring more wins along with May flowers for the boys in purple.