The Coors Effect

May 13, 2010 6:15 PM

Series preview: Nats come to Coors for four

I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of guy.  I look at what's happened to the Rockies so far this year, and I see that things could have been a lot worse.

Seriously, the first month and a half of the season, the Rockies have seen 11 games -- that's a third of the games the team has played so far -- started by guys who weren't going to be in the rotation on Opening Day.  And while Jhoulys Chacin has been excellent in his two starts, Greg Smith and Esmil Rogers... well, they haven't.  Going from Jorge to Rogers is a clear downgrade, and Francis would have to be pretty damn bad to be worse than Smith, a "finesse lefty" who's walked 24 batters in 34 innings.  Nibbling, anyone?

Now, with the team starting to return to full strength, there's a good chance the Rockies will start to eat away a bit at that 5.5-game lead the Padres have opened up in the standings.  Jeff Francis should make his return this weekend.  Jason Hammel will return as well, and Taylor Buchholz and Huston Street are on the way back.  By mid-June, the Rockies should be sporting a rotation of Jimenez, Francis, Cook, De La Rosa, and Chacin, with Street back to closing, Betancourt and Buchholz setting him up, Corpas and Morales in middle relief, Beimel around to get lefties out, and Belisle or Daley as the mopup guy.  Seriously, the Rockies have a 3.74 staff ERA with all those injuries.

Already this weekend, the Rockies will pitch, in rough order, Chacin, Jimenez, Hammel, and Francis.  Opposing them for the Nationals will be John Lannan, Livan Hernandez, Luis Atilano (who the heck is Luis Atilano?), and, I guess, Scott Olsen in the finale.  The Rockies miss probably the best pitcher in the Nationals organization, who pitched last night.  Not that they would face him, anyway, since he's pitching for the Syracuse Chiefs.

The Nats are 19-15, despite having been outscored by 16 runs this season.  Their offense isn't bad, but they've actually been unlucky a bit: despite ranking 7th in the NL in OPS, the Nats' offense ranks 13th in runs scored.  The pitching is more problematic: the Nats rank 11th in ERA, and that's with Livan Hernandez somehow having a 1.04 ERA.  On the other hand, relief pitcher Tyler Clippard leads the majors with 7 wins.  That, I can't explain.

And the Rockies, of course, are 16-17 despite having outscored the opposition by 29 runs.  I think this is the series when both teams' luck starts to turn around.  But that makes too much sense.

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