To win a division a good team would win road series, a good team would beat teams they should beat in those doing worse than they are, a good team would actually beat teams in their division. The Rockies right now are NOT a good team. They are a scuffling team. They are a mediocre team. They are a .500 team (really look at their record (14-14). But if they really have the goal of winning their first NL West Divisional Championship in the history of their franchise, they have all those things in this series with the Dodgers. The Rockies need to go into this 3 game series and win it. Every once in awhile, during a baseball season, a team sits on a point where he season can turn, and this looks like one of those series. If the Rockies don’t win this winnable series, they are in a scramble for the west for the rest of the season. A series win, and the Rockies have a leg up and a step forward to staying in pace with the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers have also been scuffling as well, and find themselves in last place with a 12-16 record, mostly from their starting pitching. Hitting, they are doing fine as a whole as they lead the NL in BA with a team Batting Average of .279 3rd in team OBP at .349 and 4th in the NL in Slugging at .435. They are lead offensively by Andre Either, who right now would be a triple crown winner, as he leads the NL in BA, tied in homers, and leads in RBI .371/10/30.
The reason the LA Dodgers are scuffling, like I mentioned is their pitching, specifically their starting pitching. But for the Rockies and this series, we only have 3 games and the pitching match ups we really need to concern ourselves with.
Game One: Friday 8:10pm MT
Esmil Rogers vs Hiroki Kuroda
Rogers is a rookie who started out the season in the Rockies bullpen, but was recalled to replace Jason Hammel when he went on the DL, and had a start last weekend in SF. Rogers has a good fastball that hits mid-90’s, and a great slider has a snap. He’s young, and a little raw and a little wild. Kuroda is a heavy sinkerball pitcher that has been the best starter for the Dodgers this year, with a 3-1 record 2.08 ERA and 25 k’s and only 7 walks. He also has a .241 BAA this year. This one looks like a mismatch, but it’s closer than it looks. Rogers has the stuff to surprise. If the Rockies can pull out a win against the Dodgers best pitcher, they have a real shot at not only winning the season but sweeping. Edge: Dodgers
Game Two: Saturday 8:10pm MT
Jhoulys Chacin vs Clayton Kershaw
Chacin is heralded rookie, who had one start last fall, and was pretty big eyed, and wasn’t very successful. In his first start this year against the Giants this last weekend, he was masterful, giving up only one hit in 7 scoreless innings. He’s not as overpowering as Rogers can be, but he has 4 pitches, and a Bugs Bunny change up that sets everything up. Kershaw is the Dodgers young superstar. But so far in 2010 he’s struggled with command giving up 24 walks in 30.2 innings. Last outing he was shelled lasting 1.1 innings and giving up 7 Runs, all earned. He has a good fastball, a good slider, and a good curve. He leads the Dodgers in strike outs with 36. Opposing teams are only hitting .239 off of Kershaw. But if he’s wild, the other team doesn’t have to get many hits. This is an intriguing match-up and maybe the best one of the series. I’d say the edge is Rockies but its close, and if Kershaw is on, then it’s edge to the Dodgers. Edge: PUSH
Game Three: Sunday 2:10 MT
Ubaldo Jimenez vs Chad Billingsley
This one IS a mismatch, and this one is in the Rockies favor. If you are living under a rock, you still have heard that Ubaldo is the best pitcher in the bigs so far this year. He’s 6-0 and has a micro .0.87 ERA and was pitcher of the month in the National League. Billingsley has been off from his past and his ERA is 5.06 so far in 2010. In 2008 the big boy was dominate, last year in 2009 he fell off a little, but looking at it in the bigger picture, his slide is a continuation of the past year. I’m not sure what his issue is, but with Jimenez dominance it doesn’t matter. Edge: Rockies
So looking at just the pitching match-ups the Rockies should have a good shot at winning this series. A win tonight, and the Rockies could even sweep the hated Dodgers.
More Rockies coverage can be found at: Blake Street Baseball