Friday, August 15, 2008

Scouting Report: Rockies at Nationals (8/15)

Rockies at Nationals: Friday, August 15 at 7:35 ET
Tonight looks like Manny's 72nd short-handed game of the year, as Guzman, Fores, and Langerhans are all question marks. We still could use a 13th pitcher back there. The losing streak is at seven, but the Rockies are in town. We'll see if they can help us look as good as we did the last time we faced them in Denver.

Here's my take on game one.

Pitching Match-Up
Jorge De La Rosa: We faced De La Rosa two weeks ago, and he went 7 strong innings as the Rox won 7-2. This was the game where Lannan was great through seven only to see Ayala get torched ("oh yeah, that narrows it down," the snarksters say...). It was one of De La Rosa's best starts of the year, and the team rewarded him by moving him to the bullpen to make room for... wait for it... Livan Hernandez. More about him tomorrow.

You can check out what I wrote about De La Rosa then--short version is that he's a lefty power pitcher who was once a prized prospect but has seen his star fade because of chronic command issues. He throws fastball, slider, curve, and change. This year he's pitched better than that ugly 6.28 ERA would suggest. He's still walking too many, but he's also still striking out a ton, and his other peripherals are good enough. Unfortunately, the key "luck" stats--BABIP, HR/FB rate, and strand rate--are all on the bad side. There's reason to think he may still be an acceptable fifth starter for someone someday, or if not a good long man in the 'pen.

Since we last saw him he's had two scoreless relief appearances. He's back in the rotation because Aaron Cook is hurt.

Tim Redding: Here's his ERA after his last four starts: 3.98, 4.34, 4.44, and 4.61. Not exactly the trend-line you look for in a pitcher once considered a tradeable commodity.

What's the problem? Well, part of it is that he's faced some stiff opposition--Phillies, Rockies in Coors, and Brewers. But he's also walking more, especially in his last start in Milwaukee, when he walked five. He's a slight flyball pitcher, and a few more of those have gone out.
That's more regression to the mean than bad luck though. The rest of his numbers are pretty much the same.

What To Look For
--Friday night, bad weather, and visitor that won't be a draw at all. How many do you think will be there? 20k? Fewer than that?

--On July 27, the Rox were on a 5-game winning streak and Since then they've gone 6-11, despite the fact that 10 of those games were played against the bottom-feeding Padres, Pirates, and Nationals.

--The Rockies defense has been terrible this year after being their strong suit last year.

--Tulo, Holliday, and Hawpe did most of the damage against Redding last time. Boone and Kearns have had the most success against De La Rosa, but most of those ABs came in the pretty distant past.

--Rockies injuries: Torreabla has a torn meniscus. That doesn't sound like a day-to-day injury to me, especially for a catcher, but that's what they're saying. Ianetta is getting the starts. Garrett Atkins has missed three games with strep. Helton's probably done for the year. Spilborghs has been out for over a month with an oblique strain.

--From on Willy Taveras on August 9:
"Don't quote us on this, but we're guessing that no qualifier for the batting title has had more stolen bases than runs scored since Marquis Grissom had 76 steals and 73 runs scored in 1991. Taveras currently has 51 of each, so he might accomplish a pretty rare feat." I guess I just quoted them, but still I thought that was worth sharing.

What to Root For
Given the Crow situation, I'm not feeling very pro-Nationals right now. Root for a rain-out.

Fearless Prediction

(Season record: 12-11)

De La Rosa does it again. Rockies 6-2.

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