Arizona finished the season as champions of the NL West at 90-72, one game better than their NLCS opponents (Colorado was 89-73… and then won their 90th game against San Diego in the one-game playoff the day after the season ended).
Fearless prediction—NLCS: Colorado in six games.
My gut instincts said Arizona in six games… but after analyzing the statistics I just cannot see how the D-Backs can prevail in this series. Colorado won the season series against Arizona, 10-games-to-8… they were 5-4 at home, and 5-4 on the road. And the Rockies are on a roll—having won seventeen of their last eighteen games.
Both teams have a five day layoff between the NLDS and NLCS, so I think it is likely that the layoff will effect both teams equally. Colorado is HOT… and although I think they will cool off a bit due to the layoff, I dont think they will go stone cold.
Another reason for picking the Rockies? The Colorado fans—who will show up in masses and make a ton of noise. As of this moment, there are still lots of unsold seats in Phoenix and it seems that the D-Backs fans intend to wait until the World Series to get excited.
The statistics don’t lead me to believe that the D-Backs will get that far…
Arizona ace Brandon Webb was 1-3, 5.77 against Colorado during the regular season. In large part, he struggled against the Rockies because he walked 17 batters in 39 innings pitched against them—that’s 3.92 walks per nine innings (his rate against the rest of baseball was 2.5 walks per nine innings). I would like to report that his command has improved as the season and playoffs have progressed, but three walks in seven innings pitched in the NLDS indicates otherwise.
My gut instinct is that the D-Backs will use Livan Hernandez in the #2 slot in their NLCS rotation. In five games against Colorado this season he was 1-0, with a 1.54 ERA… he allowed only six runs on thirty-three hits in thirty-five innings pitched in those five games.
Southpaw Doug Davis should be slotted as the #3 starter in the rotation for the NLCS… he was 1-2, 3.18 against Colorado in 2007. Likely #4 starter, Micah Owings, has never faced Colorado (if Terry Francona were managing Arizona, he would probably name Owings his Game 1 starter on that basis!).
Colorado ace Jeff Francis was 1-1, 2.84, in three games against the D-Backs this year… he allowed nineteen hits and six walks in nineteen innings pitched against Arizona. His one loss to Arizona was a 4-2 defeat on September 28th—the Rockies only loss since September 16th.
Josh Fogg, likely to be slotted in the 2-hole in the NLCS, was 1-1, 2.63, against Arizona in four games this year… he allowed twenty-five hits and issued eleven walks in twenty-four innings (a 1.50 WHIP).
Aaron Cook was 1-0, 5.63, against the Diamondbacks in 2007… he allowed fifteen earned runs on twenty-eight hits and seven walks in twenty-four innings pitched against the Diamondbacks.
Potential Game 4 starter, Jason Hirsch, was 0-1, 3.38 against the NL West champions this year… he allowed only seven hits in eight innings pitched against Arizona, but two of those hits were home runs.
The majority of Arizona hitters have not been overly successful against Rockies starter Jeff Francis in his brief career. A few have experienced reasonable success: Mark Reynolds has hit .667 (4-for-6) against him… Steven Drew has hit .333 (3-for-9)… and Conor Jackson is a career .304 (7-for-23, with 4 HR and 7 RBI) against the southpaw. On the other hand, Tony Clark is only 1-for-9 (.111), Chris Young is 1-for-8 (.125) and Eric Byrnes is 4-for-21 (.190) against him. Chris Snyder has had 5 hits in 21 at-bats(.238), but he has also drawn 5 walks (a .385 OBP).
The D-Backs have largely fared better against Josh Fogg than they have against Francis. Steven Drew is 5-for-11 (.455) in his career against the righty from Lynn, MA. Eric Byrnes is 7-for-20 (.350, 1 HR and 5 RBI)… Tony Clark is 3-for-9 (.333, 1 HR, 3 RBI)… likewise, Chris Young is 3-for-9. But Mark Reynolds (8 AB) and Chris Snyder (6 AB) are both hitless against him, and Conor Jackson is 3-for-13 (.231, with only one extra base hit).
Chris Snyder (.533), Mark Reynolds (.500) and Eric Byrnes (.300) have owned Aaron Cook… and while Tony Clark has managed only 4 hits in 19 at-bats against him, 2 of those hits were home runs. Conversely, other mainstays of the Arizona lineup have been manhandled by Cook: Stephen Drew is 3-for-20… Conor Jackson is hitless in eleven at-bats… Chris Young is hitless in eight official at-bats.
Jason Hirsch has made just one career start against Arizona… he may want to pitch carefully to Conor Jackson (2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI) and Chris Young (2-for-4).
Brandon Webb will need to be wary of Rockies hitters Kaz Matsui (.423, 11-for-26), Brad Hawpe (.342, 13-for-38, with 4 HR and 12 RBI) and Todd Helton (.300 batting average and a .470 OBP… 15-for-50, with 2 HR, 8 RBI and 16 walks). He has been solid against Matt Holliday (.244), Yorvit Torrealba (.190) and Garrett Atkins (.172).
Only two Rockies regulars have hit .300-or-above against Livan Hernandez… Todd Helton is hitting .485, with 2 HR and 16 RBI in his career against the Cuban righty while Brad Hawpe is hitting .300 (6-for-20, 1 HR and 4 RBI). MVP-in-waiting Matt Holliday has hit .258 (8-for-31, with no homers)… Garrett Atkins is at .211 (4-for-19)… and Troy Tulowitzki has struggled at .200 (3-for-15).
Doug Davis could have serious problems in a face-off against the Rockies in Colorado… for that matter, he could have trouble if he is named the Game 7 starter in Phoenix, too. Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins are both 5-for-9 (.556)… Matt Holliday is 4-for-8 (.500)… and Jamey Carroll is 4-for-10 (.400). Jeff Baker (5 ABs) and Brad Hawpe (2 ABs) are both hitless against Davis, and are the only Rockies regulars who have hit less than .250 against Davis.
Rookie Micah Owings has never faced Colorado.
tags: arizona diamondbacks, baseball, baseball history, bosox, boston red sox, brandon webb, colorado rockies, conor jackson, eric byrnes, fantasy baseball, jeff francis, major league baseball, matt holliday, mlb, nlds, red sox, red sox #1 fan, red sox nation, rotisserie baseball, sox #1 fan, sox1fan, sox1fan comment contest, todd helton