Matchups against divisional opponents make up close to half of the games a baseball club will play over the course of a 162-game season.
The Colorado Rockies are set to square off against the National League West rival San Diego Padres in a four-game set at Coors Field beginning Thursday.
The Rockies are fresh off a series victory versus the Chicago Cubs, but suffered a dishearting 10-1 loss in the series finale Wednesday afternoon, halting their recent momentum.
San Diego enters the series with a 33-35 record, having won just two of their last 10 games.
Colorado has bludgeoned the Padres so far this year, losing just once in the five games the clubs have played against each other.
Ahead are keys for the Rockies’ upcoming series versus the Padres.
Offense needs to continue to fire on all cylinders:
The Rockies enter the series winners in two of their last three games and have been red hot since the beginning of May, posting a 22-15 record, largely backed by their superb performance at the plate.
Prior to their loss to Chicago, Colorado had won 10 consecutive games at Coors Field since May 26th, outscoring their opponent 72-43 while collecting at least four runs and eight hits in all of those games.
The team has thrived at the plate as of late, hitting .319 (120-of-376) while getting contributions all throughout the lineup.
Nolan Arenado, who departed Wednesday’s game with a left forearm contusion after being hit by a pitch, has remained hot at the plate, batting .377 since April 30th, which leads the big leagues.
The four-time All-Star also ranks second in on-base plus slugging (1.118) and third in slugging percentage (.685). He’s recorded a hit in 32 of his last 38 games played with 11 home runs.
The rotation has been solid overall
While the offense has been tried and true, Colorado’s starting pitching staff has been a source of strength as of late, pitching to a 4.49 earned run average, a large upgrade from their 5.59 mark on the year.
The Rockies’ rotation was a revolving door in the early portion of the season. As it stands, just two pitchers – Jon Gray and German Marquez – from the Rockies initial crop of starters remain in the rotation.
Tyler Anderson underwent surgery to fix an injury in his left knee, Chad Bettis has been shifted to the bullpen and Kyle Freeland is currently hurling in Triple-A Albuquerque following a slew of struggles.
Despite the fluctuation within the starting five, Colorado’s rotation has managed to buckle down recently.
Peter Lambert, who is expected to start the series finale versus San Deigo Sunday, has been sensational since the Rockies called him up from Triple-A earlier in the month.
Lambert faced the Chicago Cubs twice within a week for the first starts of his career. The 22-year-old hurler kept Chicago’s offense in check, surrendering two runs in 12 innings pitched.
Manager Bud Black has continually said throughout the season that the Rockies will essentially live and die by their starting pitching, making it all the more important that the rotation to continue to perform well.
Bullpen has held steady
The Rockies’ bullpen has been rock solid all year and has done a phenomenal job of bridging the gap between the starting pitchers and end of the game.
Colorado’s bullpen has posted a 3.92 ERA (234.2 IP, 102 earned runs) this season which is good for the third-lowest mark in the NL.
While Colorado’s bullpen has been sharp all season, they have become better as the year has progressed. Since May 10th, the Rockies’ bullpen has posted a 3.52 ERA (102.2 IP, 40 earned runs) which is the third best in the sport and the lowest in the National League.
Only nine runs have been scored off of the Rockies’ bullpen in the month of June through 32.2 innings pitched. The continuation of the damage control the Rockies bullpen has demonstrated is vital if the club wants to further their success as the summer progresses.
Thursday: Matt Strahm (2-5, 4.03 ERA) vs Jon Gray (2-5, 4.03 ERA)
Friday: Cal Quantrill (1-2, 4.85 ERA) vs Jeff Hoffman (1-3, 8.06 ERA)
Saturday: Eric Lauer (5-5, 4.14 ERA) vs German Marquez (6-3, 4.19 ERA)
Sunday: Nick Margevicious (2-6, 5.02 ERA) vs Peter Lambert (2-0, 1.50 ERA)