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Series Preview: Braves at Rockies

The Braves head into the All-Star Break with four games in Denver.

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Braves close out the first half of the 2015 season with four games in the thin air of Denver against the cellar-dwelling Colorado Rockies.

When this season started, many were certain that the current face of the franchise, Troy Tulowitzki, would be in a different uniform by season's end. The Rockies have endured a lot of losing lately and 2015 is no different: they've already suffered a losing streak of 11 games earlier in the year and are currently in the middle of a stretch of nine losses in 11 games. Despite this, Tulowitzki has said he'll stay loyal to the team that drafted him. They're glad for it too, as he's the team's leading hitter (and fourth in the NL) in the midst of a 20-game hitting streak.

Another one of the few bright spots for the Rockies has been the emergence of Nolan Arenado, whose 68 RBI is tied for the major-league lead and is fourth in the NL with 24 home runs, half of which came in June alone. Arenado is well on his way to a 100-RBI season, and could very well hit 40 homers by season's end. He's also quite good with the glove at third base. Arenado has hit a bit of a rough patch offensively entering this series. Even with his three-hit game Wednesday, Arenado is hitting just .217 (5-23) in July after finishing June on a 17-game hitting streak. He's also gone eight games since his last RBI, which matches his longest such streak this year.

Arenado is one of two Rockies All-Star selections this year; the other being second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who comes in on a mini hot streak with eight hits in his last 17 at-bats. He currently sports a .303 avg. and like Arenado is a Gold Glove Award winner.

Not all is well on the offensive front however. Justin Morneau has been sidelined since May with a sprained neck and a concussion while the normally fearsome Carlos Gonzalez is hitting just .247. Drew Stubbs, who's making $5.8 million this year, was sent to the minors after starting the season 6-51 (.118) with 31 strikeouts; apparently it hasn't helped, as he's 1-10 since being recalled. In Morneau's absence, Wilin Rosario and rookie Ben Paulsen have split time at first base.

One cannot mention the Rockies without also acknowledging the park they play in is death to a pitcher's ERA. One could pencil them in for the worst staff ERA in the Majors year after year and this year is no different as their ERA pushes 5.00. No FIP or other sabremetric stat can hide how ugly that is. Simply put, Coors Field is a pitcher's nightmare; just look at Kyle Kendrick: he went from being a bad pitcher in Philadelphia to a horrible pitcher in Colorado. Hard to believe he was their Opening Day starter. He's also a sinkerball pitcher, and they typically fare worse than most in Denver, much like former Brave David Hale, who starts Friday opposite Shelby Miller. Hale is also a sinkerballer and when the trade was made back in January, some predicted (quite accurately) that he'd get hit hard. Kendrick's 2.03 HR/9 is the highest such ratio among all qualified starters: if Hale had enough innings, he'd actually top that (2.09).


L - Yohan Flande
L - Christian Friedrich
L - Boone Logan
R - Rafael Betancourt
R - LaTroy Hawkins
R - Tommy Kahnle
R - Scott Oberg
R - John Axford (closer)


Thursday, July 9, 8:40 p.m. ET

Alex Wood (ATL)
2015: 16 starts, 6-5 W-L, 3.34 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 2.53 BB/9, 6.68 K/9, 0.54 HR/9

Kyle Kendrick (COL)
2015: 17 starts, 3-10 W-L, 6.00 ERA, 6.01 FIP, 2.56 BB/9, 4.76 K/9, 2.03 HR/9

Friday, July 10, 8:10 p.m. ET

Shelby Miller (ATL)
2015: 17 starts, 5-4 W-L, 2.07 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 2.82 BB/9. 7.29 K/9, 0.41 HR/9

David Hale (COL)
2015: 8 starts, 2-4 W-L, 5.89 ERA, 5.28 FIP, 1.90 BB/9, 6.85 K/9, 2.09 HR/9

Saturday, July 11, 4:10 p.m. ET

Matt Wisler (ATL)
2015: 4 starts, 3-1 W-L, 3.13 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 2.35 BB/9, 5.48 K/9, 0.78 HR/9

Jorge de la Rosa (COL)
2015: 13 starts, 6-3 W-L, 4.46 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 4.71 BB/9, 8.41 K/9, 0.89 HR/9

Sunday, July 12, 4:10 p.m. ET

Manny Banuelos (ATL)
2015: 2 starts, 1-0 W-L, 11 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K

Chad Bettis (COL)
2015: 11 starts, 4-4 W-L, 4.95 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 3.11 BB/9, 7.35 K/9, 1.13 HR/9

For the Rockies side of the preview, go visit Purple Row.

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