Series Preview – Colorado Rockies vs. Detroit Tigers
It’s almost like the Tigers are finally interested in winning games. After taking two out of three from the N.L. Central leaders (the Reds) last weekend, and two out of three from the N.L. Central losers (the Cubs), this team is ready to take some momentum back home, as the Colorado Rockies come to town. The Rockies currently sit 14.5 games behind the Dodgers in the N.L. West, which makes them almost as bad as the Cubs this season. But even the worst of teams can string together some success once in a while. Will this be that time for the Rockies?
Friday – 6/15/12
Jeff Francis vs. Casey Crosby
Francis was a starter with Colorado for six seasons (from 2004-2010, missing 2009), before going to the Royals for 2011. He signed a deal with the Rockies last week, in time to start on June 9th. He promptly gave up eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Awesome. Francis has had a few starts against the Tigers, both with the Rockies and in his time with KC last season, but in that time he’s 0-2 with a 3.08 ERA. Those aren’t bad numbers, but whomever he’s pitching against just always seems to throw a better game. My guess would be Verlander. So luckily for Francis, J.V. just pitched, and he can take on Casey Crosby instead. The Tigers’ hitters have had mild success against him, but only Ryan Raburn is hitting .300 or better against him. So if he can keep runners off base, he can make sure that the Tigers can’t string together enough hits in any particular inning to blow the game open.
Casey Crosby is a mystery to the Rockies right now, and in a lot of ways a mystery to the fans, too. I personally am still not sure why Duane Below didn’t get that spot in the rotation when Fister went back on the Disabled List. But, I guess it’s just me. After giving up six earned runs in only three innings of work in his first start, Crosby turned around and gave up only three earned runs in five innings during his second start. What he’s really going to be about during the remainder of his time in the rotation is still up in the air. So we’ll have to wait and see which Crosby comes to play in this game.
Saturday – 6/16/12
Christian Friedrich vs. TBD
Friedrich has been something of a bright spot in the Rockies’ rotation this season. He’s not a stellar pitcher, but for a rookie, he’s doing pretty well. The ERA is a little high at 5.85, but it seems like he’s prone to the regular eight earned run start. He’s already had two of them in his first seven starts. But then he’ll turn around and throw a one run or zero run game and make everyone think that he’s something very special. He’s like a rookie version of Max Scherzer. Hopefully, for the Rockies’ sake, he has one of his low-scoring outings.
The Tigers’ pitcher is still TBD. Normally, I’d wait a day or so to give them a chance to announce it, but I think the organization is waiting, too. Depending on how he feels in the next day, it’s likely that Doug Fister will be reactivated and take his spot in the rotation. Drew Smyly is currently on the Disabled List with a pretty bad blood blister on his pitching hand, so he’s out for a couple starts. If they need someone else to take a spot start, I still say Duane Below or Luis Marte, but, again, that’s just me. With any luck, Fister will get back into this season, and make everyone on the team better for it.
Sunday – 6/17/12
Jeremy Guthrie vs. Max Scherzer
Guthrie is a pitcher that the Tigers and other American League teams are very familiar with. He spent the last five years with the Baltimore Orioles (and three years before that with the Cleveland Indians), and now finds himself with the Rockies. Guthrie always had a decent ERA and WHIP when he was in the American League, but his win-loss records always made him seem much, much worse. A lot of that was due to playing on terrible Baltimore teams (although, judging from how well the O’s are doing this year, maybe Guthrie was the problem) that were providing absolutely no run support. Of course, the Rockies aren’t exactly doing much better for him, and his current ERA is at 6.91. Surprisingly, though, he has a winning record and 3.91 ERA against the Tigers in his career, probably due in large part to the fact that he always had Luke Scott hitting in the lineup when he was in Baltimore (Luke Scott is notorious for being average, and yet hitting three home runs per game whenever he plays the Tigers). He’ll have to get around a Tigers’ lineup that rocks him for some very gaudy batting averages, though, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Max Scherzer is looking to continue a string of very good starts, and hopefully build on what he’s done by giving up fewer than three earned runs, and hopefully lasting more than six innings. Other than ERA this season, Scherzer can boast that he’s doing as well as Justin Verlander. (Max will take whatever wins he can get, whenever he can get them.) Max has pitched 21 innings against the Rockies in his career, but has only three losses (and no wins) to show for it, to go along with an ERA of 5.48. Maybe this isn’t the game to keep a streak going, after all. Although, it’s also a chance for Max to prove that he isn’t the same pitcher the Rockies have seen before, and that he is dedicated to turning a corner in his career this season.
Game 1: Tigers
Game 2: Tigers
Game 3: Rockies
Final: Tigers win series 2-1
This series is extremely hard to predict (although I do think the Tigers will win it, and I think it as likely as anything that they come away with a sweep), especially given the unknowns that still linger. Whoever pitches on Saturday could be a big reason as to why the series turns out one way or another. Fister, Below, or Marte have my full confidence against the rookie Friedrich. But I wouldn’t put it past Leyland and Dombrowski to give the spot start to Andy Oliver or someone else from Triple A. Game three is tough, as well, given Guthrie’s past success against the Tigers, but his recent failures and Scherzer’s good pitching could make it a real event for a series finale.
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