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Mets Geek » Upcoming Series: Colorado Rockies Pitchers

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April 23, 2007
  
Upcoming Series: Colorado Rockies Pitchers

After a tough three-game series against the Braves at Shea, the Mets (11-6) find themselves back in second place by half a game. The Braves deserve some credit: they are looking like a legitimate contender. That said, the Mets did not enjoy a good series, playing some sloppy baseball. The good news for the Mets is that despite a series where they gave up 18 runs, they still have the best run differential in the league. They hope the Colorado Rockies, who come into Shea for the first and only time this season, prove to be kinder guests than the Braves. So far the Rockies (8-11) sit in last place in the National League’s best division, but their situation could improve as the season progresses. There’s no single area where the Rockies truly excel, but they have a solid offensive core, decent starting pitching, and a fair bullpen.

In the first game, the Mets were due to face Rodrigo Lopez, who went on the Disabled List last week. Instead, it will be up to Taylor Buchholz (1-0, 5.68) to match up against John Maine (2-0, 1.93), who is fresh off his no-hit bid. The second game features Aaron Cook (0-1, 4.00) and Orlando Hernandez (2-1, 3.24). Josh Fogg (0-1, 6.61) pitches against Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 5.06) in the finale on Wednesday.

Game 1: Taylor Buchholz

What’s the Story? Buchholz, who was acquired from the Astros in the Jason Jennings deal, is your classic curveball pitcher. He has a low-90’s four-seam fastball as well as a heavy two-seamer, but his strikeout pitch is a hard curve he throws in the high-70’s. His changeup needs work. Buchholz figured to be one of the Rockies’ primary setup men, which might be his true calling; the lack of a quality third pitch may prevent him from ever emerging as an effective starting pitcher in the long-term. He has good control (2.9 BB/9), but he sometimes has trouble with his location, which results in an inflated homerun rate (1.6 HR/9).

Last Year: Buchholz made one start against the Mets last July at Shea, and he got hit pretty hard. He gave up seven runs over five innings, including homers to Carlos Delgado and Jose Valentin. He struck out four and walked one. Oddly enough, John Maine pitched against him in that game, too, and threw a complete game shutout.

What to Expect: As I said, Buchholz is a classic curveball pitcher, using the fastball to set up the hook. The key for him is his location with the fastball. He has a tendency to miss with it up, causing it to flatten out, and he doesn’t quite have the velocity to throw it by most hitters. The end result will be homeruns and/or extra-base hits. If he keeps the ball down and doesn’t hang too many curves he could provide six or seven good innings. Don’t expect too many changeups, a pitch he doesn’t seem to have a lot of confidence in.

Game 2: Aaron Cook

What’s the Story? While Buchholz may be a classic curveball pitcher, Cook is a classic sinkerballer. Cook pitched his first full season last year, going 9-15 with a very respectable 4.23 ERA. He keeps the ball down on the ground, and has excellent control, allowing only 53 walks over 212 innings last season. He’ll throw his low-90’s sinker almost every pitch, rarely mixing in a sweeping breaking pitch most accurately described as a slurve.

Last Year: Cook did not pitch against the Mets last year. He has made two starts against the Mets in his career, the last being a complete game in October 2005, where he allowed three runs on ten hits and one walk.

What to Expect: Cook lives in the bottom half of the strike zone, or at least tries to. He throws the sinker at least 80% of the time, which will mean a lot of groundballs and a busy day for the Rockies infield, which is quite sound defensively. Since he’s pitching at Shea, he may throw a four-seam fastball and the slurve a little more frequently than he otherwise would, but don’t expect him to change his game plan too much. Surprisingly, lefties hit him hard (.849 OPS), so keep an eye on Delgado and company.

Game 3: Josh Fogg

What’s the Story? It might be safe to say at this point that Josh Fogg just isn’t a good major league starting pitcher. And yet the Rockies still insist on marching him out there for another thirty starts. He got off to a hot start with the Pirates in 2002, and I think teams have been letting him coast ever since. Fogg’s basically a junkballer with good control. His fastball has some sink but only tops out around 88, giving him one of the slowest fastballs in baseball. He has a pretty good change and a decent curve, both of which he’ll throw often. He’ll occasionally mix in a slider, and he’s also been working on a cutter, reducing the number of pitches he doesn’t throw to one.

Last Year: Fogg made one start against the Mets and was pounded to the tune of eight runs before getting removed in the second inning. He allowed five hits—two of them homeruns—and three walks.

What to Expect: Fogg absolutely needs to hit his spots to have any sort of success. If he leaves the ball up in the zone or out over the plate he’ll be hit hard (see above). A nibbler, the only way he can pitch well is to paint the corners and hope his fastball has a little bit of sink to it. He won’t throw the fastball terribly often—just a little over half the time—and he lives on his changeup, throwing that almost 22% of the time, the fourth highest rate in the league. He also has to be careful with his curveball which he will hang from time to time.

Overall: Despite the trash we witnessed on Sunday, it’s tough to predict the Mets to stumble much against these particular Rockie pitchers, which represent the bottom of their rotation, more or less. Buchholz and Fogg are exactly the sort of pitchers the Mets kill, fly ball pitchers who really don’t have great stuff. They killed both last year, and there’s no reason in my mind to predict they won’t again. Cook is a little more problematic, as he can be quite effective when the sinker’s working well. And after the Hudson fiasco last Friday, I’m hesitant to forecast success against extreme groundball pitchers. I’m predicting the Mets to lose the middle game, taking the other two. A sweep wouldn’t surprise me, though.


22 Responses to “Upcoming Series: Colorado Rockies Pitchers”

  1. Comment posted by dancran on April 23, 2007 at 6:39 am (#306091)

    go mets

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  3. Comment posted by pj is at peace with the universe on April 23, 2007 at 8:05 am (#306094)

    nice job alex! i expect to see Carlos D and DW get off the homerun schneide against these guys. I would like a sweep before we hit the road.

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  5. Comment posted by Woodman on April 23, 2007 at 8:47 am (#306105)

    great analysis Alex, I fully expect the mets to take the loss to Atlanta out on the Rockies. Its payback time!

  6. Comment posted by Bangkok Mets Fan on April 23, 2007 at 9:29 am (#306124)

    I’m with you Woodman, how about a nice 4 or 5 game winning streak to make the Braves loss disappear in the rearview mirror!

  7. Comment posted by Metswin3122 on April 23, 2007 at 12:20 pm (#306360)

    The Rockies have some good young hitters, so it won’t be easy…I say 2 out of 3 for the Mets.

  8. Comment posted by Metswin3122 on April 23, 2007 at 12:21 pm (#306362)

    I’m glad they don’t have today off. Getting yesterday’s game as far into the past as possible is definitely a good thing.

  9. Comment posted by ajsmith on April 23, 2007 at 1:08 pm (#306393)

    Hey Dep… You out there?

    The run line isn’t up, but given the pitching matchup today, I’m looking to start a little bigger that I initially thought. The money line on the game is -200, so I’m thinking that -1.5, we’re still gonna be laying 125 or so.

    This is the kind of game the Mets should win 8 of 10 times all year. I’m going with a hunnert to get us going towards Vegas.

    One prediction… Delgado goes yard tonight.

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  11. Comment posted by dptydwg420 on April 23, 2007 at 1:55 pm (#306462)

    hey AJ- yea mon, sounds good. hundy spot it is on the money line. I saw the run line wasnt out.

    you using sportsbook?

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  13. Comment posted by JK47 on April 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm (#306479)

    Dumb thing somebody said over at Metsblog:

    I have to agree after the 6-3 lead was taken it almost seemed like the mets expected a cruise control win, that doesnt happen against scrappy teams.

    The Mets and much more talented than the Braves, but being scrappy is what counts at the end of day

    I knew it! It was anti-scrappiness that cost us that series. We should bench the talented but unscrappy Beltran and replace him with our scrappiest scrapper, David Newhan.

    Thing is, we were playing perfectly scrappy ball until the 7th inning of the third game of the series. Then Green unscrappily failed to make a play in RF and we got out-scrapped.

  14. Comment posted by Danny on April 23, 2007 at 2:29 pm (#306518)

    I expect a scrappier Mets team to sweep this series. I love the pitching matchups for us. Love them.

  15. Comment posted by ajsmith on April 23, 2007 at 3:12 pm (#306614)

    Dep…

    Yep on Sportsbook. Run line came out at even. I jumped on it. Gotta think we’re better than even money to win this one by two.

    Now, all we gotta do is figure out where we want to stay in Vegas to watch the WS.

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  17. Comment posted by dptydwg420 on April 23, 2007 at 3:15 pm (#306621)

    Cool AJ- you got it at even? damn you’re fast.

    Aight, I’m in at -1.5. Lets win by 2 at least!!!

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  19. Comment posted by dptydwg420 on April 23, 2007 at 3:19 pm (#306624)

    i got in at -105. I should have moved quicker lol

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  21. Comment posted by JK47 on April 23, 2007 at 3:31 pm (#306636)

    I hope Pelfrey just had an off day last time out. Not that the results were all that terrible, but I thought his stuff just looked very flat and hittable. The Rockies don’t exactly send Murderer’s Row out there, so maybe this is a good chance for Pelfrey to get in a groove.

  22. Comment posted by Danny on April 23, 2007 at 3:33 pm (#306641)

    I hope Pelfrey just had an off day last time out. Not that the results were all that terrible, but I thought his stuff just looked very flat and hittable. The Rockies don’t exactly send Murderer’s Row out there, so maybe this is a good chance for Pelfrey to get in a groove.

    Can you buy my theory that too many days off hurts a sinkerballer like Pelfrey and he was too strong and therefore his fastball was flattening out.

    Pelfrey said after the game he couldn’t get sink on his fastball and I think all the days off in between starts contributed to that.

    I think he’ll be fine.

  23. Comment posted by tom totem on April 23, 2007 at 3:43 pm (#306654)

    Then Green unscrappily failed to make a play in RF and we got out-scrapped.

    I’m surprised the Phillies don’t play better, being from the home of Srapple.

  24. Comment posted by ajsmith on April 23, 2007 at 3:43 pm (#306656)

    Soon as I saw that line go up, I also noticed that the money line had moved up to -210. Figured I’d better jump on Even quick, cuz there was no way that the line was moving in any direction but away from us.

    I say we stay the heck away from downtown. Gotta stay on the strip.

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  26. Comment posted by dptydwg420 on April 23, 2007 at 3:45 pm (#306658)

    Oh we’re definitely staying on the strip :)

    I know some pplz out there at Caesars and some other places thru my dad, so we can hook it up real nice if we actually do it.

    Caesars has the ulimate sportsbook out there, but any of them rock

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  28. Comment posted by JK47 on April 23, 2007 at 3:47 pm (#306659)

    Can you buy my theory that too many days off hurts a sinkerballer like Pelfrey and he was too strong and therefore his fastball was flattening out.

    Sounds good to me. A reliable power sinker guy would be awesome on this team.

  29. Comment posted by ajsmith on April 23, 2007 at 4:07 pm (#306675)

    A reliable power sinker guy would be awesome on this team.

    I had the same feeling about Pelfrey having too many off days and being “too strong” to get that good sinking action on his fastball.

    I’m looking for a much-improved outing from him on Wednesday. The truth is that anyone on this staff who can pitch to a league-average ERA is likely to have a winning season, given that our lineup is at least a run per game better than almost any other in the NL.

  30. Comment posted by P in Seattle on April 23, 2007 at 5:58 pm (#306766)

    Great job Alex. I definitely think Cook will give the Mets a pretty tough time.

    One feature I miss about these articles is the Predicted record vs. Actual record. I’d love to see that go along with the columns if you have the chance

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  32. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on April 23, 2007 at 6:21 pm (#306807)

    One feature I miss about these articles is the Predicted record vs. Actual record. I’d love to see that go along with the columns if you have the chance

    I opted not to keep track this year. I’ve largely kept true to the format Andrew used last season, but in this I’ve decided otherwise. Part of the reason was due to my missing the opening series of the season (I kinda forgot about this feature). Secondly, this April has had a lot of rainouts and cancellations which have messed with both schedules and pitching rotations. The predictions I’ve made have, at times, been based on different matchups.

    Also, who likes to be reminded of all the times they were wrong. :)

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