Rockies faced with another critical series versus surging Pirates

May 19, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (27) is unable to catch a fly ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper (not pictured) during the first inning of the game at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies are set to embark on the final series on their East Coast road trip, beginning a three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates starting Friday night.

Colorado (20-25) enters the matchup on the heels of a disheartening sweep at the hands of the National League-East leading Philadelphia Phillies (27-19) and are currently 1-4 in the first portion of the trip.

Pittsburgh enters the with wins in seven of their last 10 games, including a current three-game winning streak.

Following a slew of disappointment through the early portion of the trip, the Rockies are now presented with an opportunity to return home with a .500 record on the trip if they manage a sweep.

The Rockies’ struggles have been well documented all throughout the year and they have hindered the club from establishing a winning record this season.

Ahead are trends to take note of in the upcoming series at PNC Park.

Will the strikeouts continue?

The Rockies biggest weakness this season has been their extensive trend of strikeouts. Colorado currently ranks fourth in all of baseball with 444 strikeouts this season, an average of 9.9 per game. The Rockies inability to put the ball in play has resulted in a measly .307 on-base percentage this season.

Colorado has amassed 66 strikeouts in their last five games, averaging 13.2 per game in that span.

Luckily for Colorado, the Pirates’ pitching staff is middle-of-the-pack in regards to strikeouts, so there is an opportunity to catch a breath and re-establish their presence in the batter’s box.

Starting pitching needs to step up

The Rockies starting rotation has been a massive disappointment this season with exception to German Marquez.

Colorado’s lackluster performance from the rotation has been a common theme throughout this road trip. So far, Rockies’ started have logged just 22.5 innings in their last five games, surrendering 17 runs.

Marquez will take the mound in game one which will allow Colorado to get off to a strong start in the series. Marquez is 4-2 with a 3.80 earned run average. He has pitched well on the road this season, owning the sixth-lowest ERA in the NL on the road with a mark of 2.55.

Jon Gray will get the nod in the second game of the series and has an opportunity for redemption, considering his poor performance in his last start. Although Gray did manage to strikeout out nine batters last time out, he failed to pitch past the fifth inning and saw his ERA jump to 4.73.

Antonio Senzatela will round out the series and take the hill in game three. Senzatela is fresh off a competitive start versus the Phillies in which he threw over 100 pitches in five innings, but limited the damage to just two runs.

How will Brendan Rodgers perform?

The Rockies made headlines prior to their series with the Phillies when they called up top-prospect Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers recorded his first major league RBI and hit in the Rockies series versus the Phillies and will be looking to further establish his presence in the Pirates series before returning home to Coors Field for the first time.

The Rockies called up the 22-year-old infielder following his red-hot start in Triple-A Albuquerque this season where he hit .356 with 21 RBI’s and nine home runs in 35 games.

Rodgers has played second base since his arrival and is expected to split time at the position with fellow youngster Ryan McMahon for the foreseeable future.

Probable Pitching Matchups

German Marquez (4-2, 3.80 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (1-3, 5.58 ERA)

Jon Gray (3-4, 4.73 ERA) vs. TBD

Antonio Senzatela (3-3, 4.89 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (4-1, 1.97 ERA)

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