Rockies For Real?
That the Dodgers are atop the NL West is a surprise to practically no one, but Colorado is hanging right in there, and in fact has the best run differential in the division at plus-18. The Rockies just finished a successful six-game homestand by taking two of three from both Philadelphia and San Francisco.
That the Rockies lead the majors in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging Tulowitzki has been terrific as well: second in the NL in batting at .388, with four homers and 16 RBIs. Justin Morneau has been reborn in Denver and is hitting .346 with five homers and 17 knocked in. Third baseman Nolan Arenado has a 14-game hitting streak. Gonzalez (.263, four HRs, 14 RBIs) is playing through knee tendinitis that seems likely to lead to a DL stint at some point. Cuddyer (.317, three HRs, 10 RBIs) is on the 15-day DL. can partially be attributed to playing half their games in the thin air of Denver -- they are 8-4 at home and 4-7 on the road. If I asked you who Colorado's top offensive player was so far this season, you would probably answer either Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez (two of the best in baseball at their positions), or you might say reigning NL batting champion Michael Cuddyer. I am speaking of relatively unknown outfielder Charlie Blackmon. He entered this season with around 450 career at-bats over three years but leads the Major Leagues with a .410 average. He also has five home runs, 16 RBIs, six steals and a stellar .453 on-base percentage. He is your fantasy league MVP right now. Can he keep that up? Of course not.
Colorado won the season series 10-9 and was 6-4 at Dodger Stadium. Gonzalez really hurt the Dodgers, batting .341 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 15 games. Tulowitzki hit only .238 in 11 games. L.A.'s Carl Crawford hit .440 in 10 games against Colorado. Former Rockie Juan Uribe was 19-for-51 with 11 RBIs. Ramirez hit .370 with two home runs. Adrian Gonzalez went deep five times off Colorado pitching.
While the Colorado offense has been dynamic, the pitching staff has been below average, as is usually the case. The pleasant surprise of the rotation has been right-hander Jordan Lyles (3-0, 3.04) who starts Friday's opener at Dodger Stadium. He entered the rotation when Tyler Chatwood had to be put on the 15-day disabled list. Chatwood is back now but there's a spot still open with Jhoulys Chacin rehabbing. He should be back next week. Lyles has likely pitched well enough to stay put, with Franklin Morales the odd man out.
Lyles had his best start of the year last time out, holding the Phillies to five hits and no earned runs over seven innings. His ERA is 0.66 in two starts at Coors Field. Lyles hasn't been quite as good in two road starts, going 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA in 10.0 innings. He did not face the Dodgers last season while with Houston. Thus only a few L.A. guys have faced him. Hanley Ramirez is 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Matt Kemp is 2-for-3 with a home run.
Josh Beckett (0-0, 2.57) gets the call for the Dodgers. He has had back-to-back starts of five innings with no runs allowed and only three combined hits. Beckett has struck out 11 in those 10 innings. He isn't a fire-baller these days but more of a craftier guy. Becket made one start against Colorado in 2013, giving up five runs and five hits in four innings. Morneau has faced him the most of any Rockie, going 4-for-16 with a home run and three knocked in.
MLB free picks: Colorado +135 on MLB odds and the 'over' 7.5 runs. Neither starter figures to last more than 5-6 innings and while the Rockies bullpen will be rested, the Dodgers played Thursday night. That could be the difference. Also, the Dodgers are 1-7 in Beckett's past eight series-opening starts. The 'over' is 6-0 in the Rockies' past six Friday games. The 'over' is 7-1 in Beckett's past eight home starts.