8:40 PM EST – Line: Dodgers -205, Over/Under: 11.5
Division Rivals battle it out in the Rocky Mountains, as the National League-leading Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Coors Field to face the Colorado Rockies for the fourth time in Seven Games. These teams met for a Three-Game Series last weekend in which the Dodgers (54–26, 1st in NL West) further padded their sizable lead in the National League West (12.0 Games), sweeping their foes in thoroughly entertaining fashion. In a twist that could only have been crafted by a Hollywood Screenwriter, Los Angeles won each of those three contests via a Walk-Off Home Run, which has more or less become their calling card of late. In fact, the majority of those Homers have come courtesy of a group of Rookies, which must no doubt please Dave Roberts, who has done a stellar job of building depth in 2019. The decisive long-balls were belted by Rookie Catcher Will Smith, First Baseman Matt Beaty, and Centerfielder Alex Verdugo, becoming only the sixth team in Major League History to hit Walk-Off Homer Runs in three consecutive games, and becoming the only one to do so exclusively with Rookies. It’s just been yet another sign of success for the two-time National League Champions, who are on pace for a 110- Win Season, which would mark a Franchise Record as well. Much of that has had to do with some truly dominant pitching, which brings us to the man heading to the bump tonight, Hyun-Jin Ryu (9-1, 1.27 ERA, 15 GS, 99.0 IP, 77 H, 14 ER, 7 HR, 6 BB, 90 K, 0.838 WHIP), who in this season that has been defined by an onslaught of Home Runs, has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air. After years of Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 3.07 ERA, 13 GS, 85.0 IP, 76 H, 29 ER, 12 HR, 15 BB, 75 K, 1.071 WHIP) carrying the Rotation, Roberts & Co. have found themselves a new ace in the form of the South Korean International, who has put together a striking first half of the season, which could set up a historically dominant campaign overall. In 2019, this guy has nothing short of sensational, leading the Majors in a slew of categories, including Win Percentage (.900), ERA (1.27), WHIP (0.838), Walks per Nine Innings (0.5), and Strikeout/Walk Ratio (15.00). We’ll give you an opportunity to let these statistics set in, folks; in 99.0 Innings of labor, Ryu has issued a miniscule SIX Walks and Seven Home Runs, and is only the second Starting Pitcher to post an ERA below 1.50 in the first half of the season since the Mound was lowered back in 1969. While it would be amazing if he were to keep up such a torrid pace, Ryu is well on track to shatter the modern ERA Record set by Pedro Martinez back in 2000 (1.74). Furthermore, he’s allowed over Two Runs just once all season, and coincidentally, that came in his last Start, a 5-4 Victory over these same Colorado Rockies that they’ll be battling tonight. He registered his third straight No-Decision despite giving up a lone Earned Run on Six Hits, with Five Strikeouts and One Walk over 6.0 Innings of labor. Sharing a division with Colorado, the 32-Year old has faced them a number of times, making Eleven Career Starts with a 4-6 Record and 4.61 ERA, while posting 1.482 WHIP, yielding Eleven Home Runs, striking out Fifty-four and Walking Sixteen. Furthermore, Coors Field hasn’t been the most accommodating to him either, then again the thin air out there doesn’t necessarily agree with most Pitchers; Ryu is a lifetime 1-3 with a 7.56 ERA at that particular venue, throwing nearly as many Walks (10) as Strikeouts (12).
Meanwhile, with their deficit in the Division growing wider by the day, the Rockies (41-37, 2nd in NL West) must shift gears and focus on securing one of the Two Wild Cards if they are indeed going to return to the Playoffs for a third consecutive season. As of now, Colorado is holding onto the final Wild card in the National League, though they find themselves in a situation in which their is very little margin for error, holding a slim half-game lead over the St Louis Cardinals, who are hot on their heels. Bud Black’s charges understand the task ahead of them, for things are not going to be easy heading into the All-Star Break, for awaiting them after this Three-Game Series with the Dodgers is brief Interleague Two-Step with the AL West-leading Houston Astros, followed by a Triple-Play with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Oddly enough, in this year of the Home Run, the Rockies, who play in arguably the most advantageous Park in the Majors, have pretty much checked themselves out of the festivities, ranking Tenth in the National League with 102 Homers, just below the League Average of 106. However, that’s not to say that they haven’t gotten it done at the Plate, for this has still been one of the more effective teams with the bat in hand; Colorado ranks First in the National League in Batting Average (.275), Hits (739), Runs Scored (436), Doubles (168), and Triples (24). So like we said, despite the lack of Home Run Power, they’re still getting On-Base, and still scoring Runs. Nolan Arenado (77 G, .326 BA, 97 H, 57 R, 17 2B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 32 BB, 43 K), Charlie Blackmon (62 G, .330 BA, 90 H, 55 R, 18 2B, 18 HR, 49 RBI, 15 BB, 51 K), and Trevor Story (72 G, .294 BA, 87 H, 65 R, 20 2B, 17 HR, 48 RBI, 12 SB, 27 BB, 86 K) have provided plenty of pop in the middle of the Batting Order, though Story is currently occupying the 10-Day Disabled List due to a sprained Right Thumb. Arenado figures to be heading to his fifth consecutive Midsummer Classic, leading the Majors with Ninety-Seven Hits, while on pace to match his Home Run Total of Thirty-Eight last season. Getting the nod to Start tonight will be Peter Lambert (2-0, 5.85 ERA, 4 GS, 20.0 IP, 23 H, 13 R, 3 HR, 4 BB, 16 K, 1.350 WHIP), who appears to be yet another attempt from Black in supplementing his injury-stricken Rotation. With Three Starters on the 40-Day Disabled List or worse, the Rockies are in dire need of a quality arm to stabilize things, though the reality is becoming increasingly clear that the answer simply won’t be found on the current Roster. While the Front Office continues to look for solutions on the Trade Market, Lambert will get his opportunity to make an impression. The 22-Year Old Rookie has made just Four Starts thus far, and comes with a good deal of promise and potential after being selected 44th Overall in the 2015 Amateur Draft. The Righthander mightily in his first Career Start, a 3-1 Victory over the Chicago Cubs back on June 6th, in which the youngster fanned Nine Batters over 7.0 Innings, allowing a lone Earned Run on Four Hits. Since then, it’s been a bit of a different story, relinquishing Twelve Earned Runs on Nineteen Hits (including Three Home Runs) over just 13.0 Innings, issuing Three Walks opposed to totaling Seven Strikeouts. He was last seen during the Dodgers’ three-game run of Walk-Off Homers, serving up a long-ball in Colorado’s 4-5 Defeat last Saturday.