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O’s vs. Rockies series preview: July 25th-27th

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The O’s will be welcoming a foe to Camden Yards tonight that we don’t see too often: the Colorado Rockies. Predicted by most to battle San Diego for the title of N.L. West doormat, the Rockies haven’t quite been as bad as expected this year - they’re firmly in third place with a 47-51 record.

Monday, 7:05 PM: Yovani Gallardo vs. Jorge De La Rosa

It seems like Jorge De La Rosa has been on the trading block for about ten years, but any value he may have had is probably gone now. He’s entering tonight’s game with a 6.07 ERA and a 5.22 FIP, and his velocity is down considerably. It’s looking like age might be catching up to the Rockies’ all time leader in wins and strikeouts.

Naturally, the O’s will be countering with another pitcher who’s sporting an inflated ERA and declining velocity. Yovani Gallardo has just a single quality start this season, against the Padres on June 29th.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM: Chris Tillman vs. Chad Bettis

Bettis’ ERA is up over a full run from last year (5.31 vs. 4.23), but his peripherals suggest that he’s pretty much the exact same pitcher. His xFIP of 3.91 is almost identical to what it was last year, and he’s got all the classic markers of bad pitching luck, including a high BABIP, high HR/FB, and a low strand rate.

Bettis is coming off of three consecutive starts where he pitched well and made it into the seventh inning, so his fortunes may be turning around. Granted, those starts were against Philadelphia and Atlanta (twice), but it’s something.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM: Dylan Bundy vs. Jon Gray

Gray has been one of the brightest spots of Colorado’s season thus far, pitching to a 4.12 ERA and sporting some shiny peripheral stats like a 9.7 K/9. The 24-year-old has averaged over 95 MPH on his fastball this year and primarily mixes that with a hard slider. With Gray going up against Bundy, this should be a fun battle between young, hard-throwing pitchers that both have a ton of upside.

Other notes

  • When Trevor Story started to cool off after his ridiculous first few weeks, it was easy to think that the league had started to figure him out. Nope! After a bit of a slump earlier in the year he bounced back with an .893 OPS in June and a ridiculous 1.207 OPS so far in July. His home run on Saturday broke the league record for a rookie shortstop, and it’s not even August yet.
  • The Rockies have three former Orioles, but will bring only two to Baltimore. We should see plenty of Mark Reynolds and Nick Hundley, but Gerardo Parra is on the DL with an ankle injury. Parra had a .274 on-base percentage prior to hitting the disabled list, so the early returns on that signing have not been pretty.
  • The Rockies’ bullpen has been a mess this season. Jake McGee, acquired to be the closer in the Corey Dickerson trade, has already matched his career high of four blown saves and has a 5.59 ERA. Colorado’s bullpen ERA is 28th in the majors, and it’s almost a third of a run worse than 27th. They’re only better than Texas, whose bullpen has been a dumpster fire, and the triple-A team known as the Cincinnati Reds.
  • After a horrible 2014, Carlos Gonzalez caught fire in the second half of 2015. Now, there are no doubts as to whether he’s really back. Gonzalez is hitting .318/.371/.549 and is on pace to have his best statistical season since 2010.

Five days ago, this series would’ve looked like it was a chance to right the ship for a scuffling Orioles team. Now, it looks like it’s a good opportunity to get some separation in the A.L. East after a sweep of the best team in the league. There’s no reason the O’s shouldn’t take at least two out of three here - after a terrific weekend, let’s hope they can avoid a letdown and keep it going.