Your author is currently out in the mountains of Colorado for work, and today the Braves baseball team will be joining me to do some work themselves. This series against the Rockies will complete a 10 game stretch in which the Braves will have played the worst teams in baseball, having just finished up taking two of three against both the Phillies and the Brewers.
Much like those other two clubs, the Rockies’ biggest weakness has been their pitching, allowing a Major League leading 5.17 runs per game. Their 1, 2, and 3 guys in the rotation are Jorge De La Rosa, Kyle Kendrick, and David Hale. Yes, you read that correctly. Kyle Kendrick and David Hale are legitimately the 2nd and 3rd best starting pitcher options for a Major League baseball team. It’s hard to get much worse than that. Their hitting has been notably less horrible, though a lot of that can be chalked up to playing in Coors Field. Nolan Arenado has been leading the squad, and though he is performing well, he shouldn’t be the best hitter on any team. Their star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was having an incredible season in 2014 before getting injured (basically his entire career), has somehow lost his ability to make contact with baseballs and has responded to this by swinging more often. Young players take note: this is in no way a good hitting strategy, and it’s leading to a career-worst year in walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated power. Carlos Gonzalez is also having a horrible year, which FanGraphs writer Eno Sarris recently wrote about (shameless self-promotion):
— Stephen Ray Brown (@srbrown70) June 16, 2015
The rest of their hitters have been performing about as well as you would expect, which is somewhere between horrible and “meh.” As such, they shouldn’t be much of an issue for Alex Wood, team ace Shelby Miller, and rookie sensations Matt Wisler and Manny Banuelos. Wisler and Banuelos have been impressive in their 6 combined starts, though it’s yet to be seen how much of that has been a combination of good luck and bad opponents. Wisler is also the Braves’ most extreme fly-ball pitcher, which could spell danger in the thin Denver air.
While that high-altitude air could be dangerous for our pitching staff, it could also help Nick Markakis’ chances in finally hitting his first home run of the season. While concerning at first, that little stat has in a way become a fun novelty, as he’s still been plenty productive thanks to his ability to draw walks and make good, consistent contact. Two guys who have had no lack of power recently are Juan Uribe and AJ Pierzynski. Both have been on fire and have helped pick of the slack of not having Freeman in the lineup. Speaking of Freddie, with him still on the DL, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson, and Alex Wood are the only potential starters for this series who played for the Braves in 2014. Everyone else is either newly acquired or fresh from our farm system. The fact that the Braves have nearly completely overturned the roster while greatly improving the future outlook, and are still playing roughly .500 baseball impresses the hell out of me. No, we’re not really contending, but anyone who says this hasn’t been fun so far simply hasn’t been paying attention. Hit the people with the ‘graphic.