RHP Jon Gray tossing one of his famous mid-upper 90’s fastballs to Jonathan Villar during the 2016 season.
Historical Series: 63-70 (but 39-27 at Miller Park!)
2016 Series: 5-1
GAME ONE: LHP Jon Gray vs. RHP Junior Guerra
Gray in 2016: 29 GS, 4.61 ERA, 168.0 IP, 185-59 K-BB, 1.26 WHIP, 9.9 K/9
Against the Brewers: 1 start, 6 IP, 2 ER, 10 K’s, 3 BB, 4 Hits (at Miller Park)
Though Gray has only pitched against the Crew once, he came at the club with his heavy fastball that typically sits around the mid-90’s. He also threw a healthy four-pitch mix consisting of a curveball, changeup, and a pretty solid upper-80’s/low-90’s slider. He’s started to come into his own as of last season, so there’s no reason to believe he’ll lay down to the Crew’s offense.
Guerra in 2016: 20 GS, 9-3, 2.81 ERA, 121.2 IP, 100-43 K-BB, 1.13 WHIP, 7.4 K/9
Against the Rockies: –
That’s right – Guerra has never pitched against the Rockies before, so we could be in for an interesting game. But what could be really key is Guerra’s splitter. The Rockies have always been known for their power-play, and this season is no different (Arenado, Story, Reynolds, Gonzalez, little bit of Blackmon). One of the best ways to neutralize this will be through his off-speed stuff low in the zone – a place where everybody except Blackmon has a hole in their swing when it comes to soft pitches. If his splitter can work its magic low in the zone, expect the Rockies offense to be sapped of its power.
GAME TWO: LHP Tyler Anderson vs. RHP Zach Davies
Anderson in 2016: 19 GS, 114.1 IP, 3.54 ERA, 99-28 K-BB, 1.29 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
Against the Brewers: 1 start, 5 IP, 2 ER, 10 K’s, 2 BB, 3 Hits (at Miller Park)
Anderson’s game really started to flourish last season after being promoted to the big leagues. Maintaining a 50.9% groundball rate (compared to a 28.7% fly ball rate), he keeps the ball on the ground – perfect for either parks. He doesn’t throw nearly as hard as Gray does – his fastball only sits around 91 mph – but he locates the pitch very well. A changeup and slider also come into play, as the changeup is his primary go-to. We might also see him throw some curveballs if he worked on it over the offseason (only threw 23 last season, as it is fringe at-best). Anderson will also be the second southpaw thrown in a row, so hopefully he doesn’t give the Crew’s offense too many fits with his breaking stuff.
Davies in 2016: 28 Starts, 11-7, 3.97 ERA, 163.1 IP, 135-38 K-BB, 1.25 WHIP, 7.4 K/9
Against the Rockies: 1 start, 6 IP, 1 ER, 8 K’s, 3 BB, 5 Hits (at Miller Park)
This one looks to be a battle of the offspeed pitches, as Davies also utilizes his changeup as his best secondary offering. We all know of his prowess when it comes to control, and his command of his offspeed pitches is where he might have an edge over Anderson going head-to-head. Similar to Guerra, he’ll need to hone-in on the lower-half of the zone and towards the corners – perhaps even more due to his lack of fastball velocity – to sap the Rockies’ offense.
GAME THREE: RHP Tyler Chatwood vs. RHP Wily Peralta
Chatwood in 2016: 27 starts, 158 IP, 3.87 ERA, 117-70 K-BB, 1.37 WHIP, 6.7 K/9
Against the Brewers: 2 starts, 13 IP, 2.08 ERA, 14-0 K-BB, 10 hits
While Chatwood has been rotting in and out of the disabled list for the last few years, his charm comes in his ability to net ground balls – something that helps him greatly in Coors Field. But what’s even more surprising is his splits against the Brewers. He’s got their number more than other teams, seen in that impressive 14-0 K-BB. What’s even scarier is his realization – and consequent adaptation – of what kind of a pitcher he is. He won’t get a ton of strikeouts, but he’s changed his approach to simply force hitters into a state of off-balance. He’s definitely hittable, but if the Crew can tag a few runs on early – as he does his best work away from Coors – we should have him on the ropes.
Peralta in 2016: 23 starts, 127.2 IP, 4.86 ERA, 93-43 K-BB, 1.53 WHIP, 6.6 K/9
Against the Rockies:7 games (6 GS), 36.2 IP, 4.66 ERA, 21-9 K-BB, 44 H (4 HR)
Wily’s 2016 numbers are really no help to us – we saw that he is a classic ‘tale of two players’. When Wily struggles, he really struggles. But the second half saw much improved numbers – including a six-inning shutout of the Rockies at Coors Field to end his season. He usually sticks to his four-seam/two-seam combo about two-thirds of the time, with a mid-80’s slider in the mix. If his location is there this season, that mid-90’s combo could be effective in throwing-off heavier hitters with the change in movement (plus he’ll be one of the few Brewers that could throw high-heat effectively). But if that location isn’t there, we might be in for first-half Wily.
GAME FOUR: RHP Antonio Senzatela vs. RHP Chase Anderson
Senzatela in 2016: Double-A, 7 GS, 34.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 27-9 K-BB, 1.04 WHIP, 7.0 K/9
Against the Brewers: –
Ranked as the Rockies’ 8th-best prospect (per MLBPipeline), Senzatela made the Opening Day roster for his first taste of the big leagues. He’s got a pretty nice fastball that comes with some quickness (92-95, reaching 98 mph) and movement. What’s even more impressive is his location with a pitch of that calibur, so we might see a really tough opponent for the series finale. But where he has a great initial offering, his changeup (best secondary pitch), and slider are still a work in progress despite his control.
Anderson in 2016: 30 GS, 151.2 IP, 4.39 ERA, 120-53 K-BB, 1.37 WHIP, 7.1 K/9
Against the Rockies: 10 starts, 54.1 IP, 5.30 ERA, 50-17 K-BB, 59 Hits, 8.3 K/9 (1 start, 5 IP, 3 ER, 7 K’s, 2 BB, 6 H in 2016 at Miller Park)
Anderson has struggled mightily with the Rockies in the past, and it probably has something to do with his fly ball tendencies. He’s divvied up 10 home runs in those 54.1 innings, both of which are more than any other team (as well as exactly half of his earned runs were given up from the long ball). From what heat maps show, the Rockies tend to hit him much better low and away (or low and in for lefties) than the league average for him in his career, and they pepper his offspeed pitches when they’re lower in the zone. Depending on how they play, Anderson will have to really come out with a few tricks up his sleeve to avoid letting a few runs come across.
Are the Rockies Good?:
Well….they’re okay. Their offense has always been their claim to fame, and the pitching had gotten much more promising in the last couple of years (a la Jon Gray, potential Coors Field gems in Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood), but they’re in a weird state at the moment. They could have been much improved over the course of last season, but their bullpen was a consistent question mark with injuries and inconsistency. Plus, the second half saw some a couple of offensive pieces hit the DL – most notably slugging shortstop Trevor Story. Even now, the roster is banged up, with SP Chad Bettis, C Tom Murphy, OF David Dahl, and INF/OF Ian Desmond all starting on the DL, among others. They still pack an offensive punch, but there’s no reason the Crew couldn’t take the series to open up 2-2 or 3-1.
Rockies Players to Watch:
Star-Power? Nolan Arenado has you covered. The NL co-home run champ is a true gamer – he’s got the serious pop in the bat, good contact abilities….and man, can he field the ball (can you tell I’m crushing on him? Is it too obvious?).
But of other guys to watch, both SS Trevor Story and RHP Greg Holland – the newly-healed cogs of the team – will be major players for the season. Both have come off some pretty tough injuries, and will play a major role for the Rockies in 2017. Story will man shortstop while bringing more power to the lineup, as Holland will finally get back to pitching after suffering through the Tommy John struggles. He’ll most likely become the closer for Colorado, and if he can pitch anywhere near his old all-star self, he’ll be a tough opponent when the going gets tough. C Tony Walters might also be one to watch, as the Crew might look to take advantage of the rookie catcher with their speed. However, he’s known as a more defensive-inclined catcher, so the squads may butt-heads on the basepaths.