MLB Picks: Tough to Trust Lincecum in Denver so Lean Rockies Over Giants

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, April 25, 2015 8:25 PM GMT

Sunday afternoon's game in Denver is the series finale between Colorado and San Francisco and the struggling Giants' 20th straight game against an NL West opponent to open the season. The Rockies opened as -128 favorites on MLB odds with a total of 10.5.

What You Need To Know
It's an odd-numbered year so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Giants are struggling as they have won the World Series every even-numbered year this decade but missed the playoffs in the two odd years. Getting Hunter Pence back would certainly help things. Pence is the team's second-best offensive player behind catcher Buster Posey but has yet to play this season after suffering a broken forearm early this spring. His target date to debut was May 1 but that's not going to happen now. Pence has yet to hit live pitching. Pence played all 162 games last regular season and hit .277 with 20 homers and 74 RBIs. MLB odds makers know that the Giants aren't a great offensive team even with him but they are near the bottom of the majors in runs and homers without. The Giants lost Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval off last year's championship team. Former Royal Nori Aoki essentially replaced Morse. Aoki has no power but is hitting over .300. Former Marlin Casey McGehee replaced Sandoval at third and McGehee isn't hitting his weight. GM Brian Sabean may have to go find a third baseman later this summer if the Giants are to contend.

The Colorado Rockies led the majors by a ton in pretty much every offensive statistic at home last season but are just middle of the pack this season. Thus it's actually a pretty good sign that Colorado is above .500 because you know the bats are going to awaken at Coors Field. Guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Morneau haven't started clicking at the plate yet. Troy Tulowitzki has been solid offensively but lacking power thus far. The team's best hitters have been second baseman D.J. LeMahieu, third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Corey Dickerson. The pitching staff hasn't been great -- it rarely is with the Rockies -- but not downright terrible. The team already has made a change at closer. Out is LaTroy Hawkins and in is Adam Ottavino, and he has been lights out. Maybe this team can stay in the NL West race all season.

 

Probable Pitchers
Former two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum gets the call for San Francisco, although he hasn't resembled that guy much over the previous few seasons. Maybe the 30-year-old has rediscovered something, however, with a 1-1 record and 2.00 ERA through three starts. It's the first time since 2011 that he has had an ERA of 2.00 or better after three starts. Really, 2011 was his last good season as he hasn't finished with an ERA lower than 4.37 since. On Tuesday, Lincecum held the Dodgers to a run and five hits over six innings in a 6-2 win. He faced these Rockies on April 15 at AT&T Park and took the loss, giving up four runs (three earned) and six hits over five innings. Arenado hit a three-run homer off Lincecum in the first inning. Gonzalez has two career homers and eight RBIs along with three triples in 50 career at-bats off Lincecum. Tulowitzki is 15-for-60 with two homers and 11 RBIs. Wilin Rosario bats .316 off Lincecum with two homers and four knocked in over 19 at-bats. Lincecum is 6-4 all-time at Coors Field. He didn't pitch there in 2014.

Left-hander Tyler Matzek, 24, starts for Colorado. He showed some promising signs last year as rookie. In 117.2 innings, he was 6-11 with a 4.05 ERA. Not bad considering having to pitch often in the thin air of Denver. He has started this season at 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in three starts. That win came against the Giants on April 15 opposite Lincecum, allowing a run and five hits over six innings. That has been Matzek's longest outing this season. On Tuesday against the Padres in  no-decision, he lasted only five innings largely because of six walks. He also allowed two runs and four hits. Buster Posey is 1-for-6 career with an RBI off Matzek. Angel Pagan is 3-for-7 with a double and RBI. Aoki is 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.

Free MLB Picks: Add Rockies and 'over' with your MLB picks. The Giants are 0-5 in Lincecum's past five on the road. They are 1-4 in his past five against the Rockies. The 'over' has hit in nine of  his past 14 vs. the Rockies.

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