9:10 PM EST – Line: Diamondbacks -188, Over/Under: 9
With the All-Star Break just two days away, Division Rivals look to make up ground as the Colorado Rockies travel tot he desert to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first leg of a Three-Game Series from Chase Field. After an absolutely abysmal start to the campaign which saw them drop Twelve of their first Fifteen Games, the Rockies (44-40, 2nd in NL West) have gradually climbed back into contention, not for the National League, but for a Wild Card, which they’re currently in possession of. Indeed, Colorado will have plenty of competition for that prize after the All-Star Break, but their resilience cannot be questioned, particularly when you consider the rash of injuries that they’ve suffered thus far. While that had a lot to do with their initial struggles, returning to health has been a major reason for their dramatic improvement; since beginning the term 3-12, Bud Black’s charges have gone a whopping 41-28, making them a very dangerous team over the season’s second half. As is the case with most incarnations of this club, they’re one of the most potent offensive teams in the Majors. However, in a season that has been overly defined by Home Runs, these guys have gone a different rout; Colorado ranks a meager Tenth in the National League in Homers (111), but in stead lead the League in Batting Average (.269), Hits (799), Runs Scored (475), Doubles (181), and Triples (28), proving that there are other ways of scoring than simply driving the baseball out of the ballpark. Heading to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game, Nolan Arenado (83 G, .320 BA, 103 H, 60 R, 20 2B, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 34 BB, 47 K) is in the midst of an MVP-caliber campaign, batting a career-high .320, while totaling Twenty Doubles and Homers apiece, along with Sixty-Five Runs Batted In. Taking the mound tonight for the Rockies will be Antonio Senzatela (7-5, 4.83 ERA, 15 GS, 82.0 IP, 94 H, 44 ER, 12 HR, 39 BB, 47 K, 1.622 WHIP), whom has been one of the few Starting Pitchers for this team not to be struck by an injury. With that said, the young Venezuelan hasn’t necessarily continued the growth that his solid 2018 would have suggested, for he has struggled mightily with his control throughout the term. After moving back and forth between the Rotation and the Bullpen in his first two seasons with the club, Senzatela has made Fifteen Starts thus far, in which his ERA has ballooned to 4.83, while issuing an average of 4.3 Walks per Nine Innings. Granted, when you’re pitching half of your Starts in the thin air of Coors Field, you’re going to give up some Runs, which he certainly has, but the influx in Walks in another matter altogether; he’s averaging 1.3 more Bases on Balls this season than it’s predecessor, which has been a troubling statistic for the 24-Year Old. When we last saw him, Senzatela played a role in a rousing 13-9 Victory over the NL-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, lasting 5.0 Innings in which he yielded Two Earned Runs on Seven Hits, despite serving up a Home Run and Five Walks in comparison to logging a pair of Strikeouts. Over his brief career, he hasn’t enjoyed much success against tonight’s opponent, the Diamondbacks; the Righthander is 2-4 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in Ten Career Appearances against them, though in his lone Start in Arizona this season (back on June 18th), he went 6.2 Innings permitting just One Run on Seven Hits in an 8-1 Victory. In fact, he’s been much more effective away from home this season, posting a 4-2 Record with a 3.92 ERA in Eight Road Starts.
Meanwhile, one is left to wonder where the Diamondbacks (43-43, 4th in NL West) would be this season if not for their proverbial kryptonite, the Rockies? In Ten Games with their Division Rivals, Arizona is a disappointing 2-8, allowing 6.5 Runs per Game, with those eight defeats coming in each of their past eight meetings. As a result, Torey Lovullo’s charges are one of seven different teams that find themselves with Two Games of one of the two Wild Cards in the National League. And that’s what makes this particular Series with Colorado so important; a Three-Game Sweep would see them vault past their foes into one of those prized spots. With that said it’s going to be easier said than done for a club that even if you set aside their struggles against this particular opponent, haven’t been in good form for a few weeks now; Arizona is just 5-9 since June 16th. With the departure of Six-Time All-Star, Paul Goldschmidt in Free Agency, there was a legitimate concern as to where this team would find their Offense, but that has more or less been solved with the ascension of youngsters such as Ketel Marte (82 G, .309 BA, 103 H, 55 R, 19 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 52 RBI, 24 BB, 54 K), who will be heading to his first All-Star Game, and steady veterans such as Eduardo Escobar (84 G, .292 BA, 96 H, 55 R, 18 2B, 5 3B, 18 HR, 64 RBI, 30 BB, 73 K), whom they acquired at the Trade Deadline in 2018. As a team, they rank Second in the national League in Hits (786) and Triples (20), Third in Doubles (171), and Fourth in Stolen Bases (48). Needless to say, they’re doing just fine at the Plate. Taking the mound tonight for the Diamondbacks will be their ace, Zack Greinke (9-3, 2.90 ERA, 18 GS, 115.0 IP, 93 H, 37 ER, 12 HR, 15 BB, 99 K, 0.939 WHIP). The 2009 Cy Young is in the midst of his most impressive campaign with Arizona since arriving on a lucrative Six-Year, $206.5 Million Contract back in 2016, posting a 2.90 ERA and 0.939 WHIP, with averages of 7.3 Hits, 0.9 Home Runs, and 1.2 Walks per Nine Innings, alongside a 6.60 Strikeout/Walk Ratio, all representing high marks during his four-year tenure with the club. When we last saw the 35-Year Old, he feasted on the struggling San Francisco Giants’ Lineup, tossing 7.0 Scoreless Innings, yielding just Five Hits, while racking up Six Strikeouts with Zero Walks, marking the fourth time this season in which he racked up at least Five Strikeouts without issuing a single Base on Balls. Having spent the last Seven Years of his career in the National League West, Greinke has faced the Rockies plenty of times, owning 12-7 Record with 3.81 ERA and 1.209 WHIP in Thirty-Two Starts. However, he’s battled them three times already in 2019, and has yet to earn a Win, going 0-1 with 4.26 ERA and 1.211 WHIP, and in their latest affair, he relinquished Five Earned Runs in a 4-6 Loss back on June 19th, the most he’s given up since the Season Opener on March 28th.