Giants at Rockies MLB Pick July 2
Following an important 3-games series win in Los Angeles over the surging Dodgers, the Colorado Rockies return home to Denver on Monday to begin a midweek series against another NL West rival, the San Francisco Giants. These teams find themselves in third and fourth place in the division, but neither is out of it. The Giants are just 2.5 games back of the Diamondbacks for first (they’re actually tied with the Dodgers), while the Rockies are 6 games out.
With so many teams still alive in the NL postseason race, it may be difficult for either the Giants or Rockies to overcome all of them. Winning the division may be the easiest path to playoff baseball.
We’ll have a matchup between a pair of lefties in the opener. Madison Bumgarner will climb the hill for the visiting Giants against Denver native Kyle Freeland.
MadBum has made just 5 starts this season after getting hurt during spring training. The former World Series MVP struggled in his first few outings, but he’s righted the ship of late. Bumgarner has pitched 15 consecutive scoreless innings over his last 2 starts against the Padres and these Rockies. He racked up 8 strikeouts in each start, so it sure looks like he’s found his form.
Still, Bumgarner is a bit overrated in general. He has a big name thanks to his performance during the postseason. He is still the best starter on the San Francisco staff, but those that believe he’s in the Sale-Scherzer-Kershaw class are just wrong. Last season, MadBum had a strikeout rate around 22 percent along with minimal walks. His 3.94 SIERA was solid, but unspectacular.
Bumgarner allowed a hard contact rate of about 35 percent last season, and that number is up over 40 so far in 2018. It’s a small sample size, but that is still cause for concern. The left-hander stifled the Rockies in his last start, but that game took place at spacious AT&T Park. Tonight, he gets the tall task of facing the same lineup in baseball’s most hitter-friendly setting, Coors Field.
In 13 career games at Coors, Bumgarner has an ERA around 4.00 and he’s allowed 8 home runs. The Rockies aren’t a great offense away from their home ballpark, but they’re quite a bit more formidable in Denver. MadBum is a left-hander with a wide platoon split, and the Colorado lineup has some potent righties capable of giving him problems.
Being from the area, Freeland is quite familiar with the challenges that come with pitching at altitude. He’s not a household name by any means, but he has pitched quite well this season. One important aspect of his game is inducing ground balls. Keeping the ball on the ground is key when you pitch in such a homer-friendly setting. Freeland has induced a ground ball rate over 49 percent this season, which helps him limit damage that plagues others pitching in this park.
He has a solid strikeout rate around 20 percent, but he has also still allowed 11 home runs already. The platoon edge against a couple of San Francisco’s better hitters in Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford should help, but Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Nick Hundley and the righties project well against Freeland.
Las Vegas has tagged this game with an implied total of 10 1/2 runs. That’s the highest number of any game on the schedule tonight, but it doesn’t look high enough. The Rockies have been tearing left-handed starters to shreds all season, especially of late. Nolan Arenado, Ian Desmond and Trevor Story have combined to smash 26 home runs this season alone against southpaws.
Targeting high totals like this comes with inherent risk, but it’s also expected to be another warm afternoon and evening in Denver. As we know, warm weather is another boost to bats, which makes this an almost perfect environment for hitting. I think this game will have a boatload of runs, so give me the over on 10 1/2.
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