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The Coors Effect


April 23, 2010 7:21 PM

Game 17 preview: Marlins (Nolasco) at Rockies (Smith)

Game 17: Florida Marlins (9-7) at Colorado Rockies (8-8)
Game time: 7:10 PM (MDT)
Starting pitchers: Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.74) vs. Greg Smith (1-1, 4.67)

Greg Smith makes his second career start at Coors Field.  His first was ten days ago, in an 11-3 win over the Mets, in which Smith went seven innings, giving up two runs (both earned) on six hits and two walks, striking out eight.  Smith is 1-0 in his career at Coors.  This is Smith's first career start against the Florida Marlins.  In fact, no player on the Marlins has ever faced Smith in the major leagues.

In his last start, five days ago in Atlanta, Smith's command was a big concern: he walked seven batters in 5.1 innings.  In 2008 in Oakland (the last time he pitched in the majors) Smith issued 87 walks in 190.1 innings, for a BB/9 of 4.1.  So this isn't necessarily a new concern, but Smith does need to find his command tonight against a good Marlin offense.  Smith is fairly homer-prone (0.99 HR/9 in 2008, 3 in 17.1 IP this season), so it's imperative that he keep runners off the basepaths, as a couple of three-run bombs could be devastating.  And the Marlins have the power hitters to do just that: the three hitters in the middle of the order (Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, and Dan Uggla) can all knock the ball out of the park, and there's also Cody Ross, who hit 24 out last season.  Ultimately, that's the key to the game for the Rockies, because the Rockies are unlikely to get a ton of scoring opportunities against Ricky Nolasco, who's a pretty good pitcher.

Starting Lineups

Marlins
Cameron Maybin cf (.284/.342/.388, season)
Gaby Sanchez 1b (.280/.379/.480, season)
Hanley Ramirez ss (.306/.411/.419, season)
Jorge Cantu 3b (.297/.343/.578, season)
Dan Uggla 2b (.333/.377/.556, season)
Ronny Paulino c (.261/.320/.478, season)
Cody Ross rf (.250/.284/.344, season)
Brett Carroll lf (.357/.357/.643, season)
Ricky Nolasco p (.143/.143/.143, season)

(As noted above, no Marlins player has ever faced Greg Smith before.)

Rockies
Carlos Gonzalez lf (.333/.333/.333 in 3 AB) (.353/.353/.471, season)
Dexter Fowler cf (0 PA) (.169/.234/.288, season)
Todd Helton 1b (.286/.286/.286, 1 K in 7 AB) (.300/.375/.360, season)
Troy Tulowitzki ss (.500/.500/1.500, 2B, HR, 2 RBI in 4 AB) (.277/.314/.385, season)
Brad Hawpe rf (.375/.333/.500, 2B, 2 K, 2 RBI in 8 AB) (.375/.479/.750, season)
Chris Iannetta c (.667/.667/1.000, 2B in 3 AB) (.148/.258/.370, season)
Ian Stewart 3b (.000/.000/.000, 2 K in 6 AB) (.327/.406/.636, season)
Clint Barmes 2b (.167/.286/.167, 2 K in 6 AB) (.205/.271/.386, season)
Greg Smith p (0 PA) (.200/.200/.400, season)

Keys to the game

-Command, command, command.  As mentioned above, Smith can't afford to have a bunch of guys on the basepaths with his home run tendencies against a dangerous Marlins lineup.  He needs to keep the Marlins off the basepaths.
-Get to the bullpen early and often.  Nolasco isn't a terribly efficient pitcher, as he averaged less than six innings per start in 2009.  The Marlins' bullpen isn't that great so the key for the Rockies is to chase Nolasco around the fifth or sixth inning and get to the bullpen.  On the other hand, Nolasco doesn't issue too many walks (2.2 BB/9), so the Rockies do need to avoid being overly patient since Nolasco really isn't going to walk you.

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