Inbox: Rockies' chief concern vs. D-backs?

Reporter Thomas Harding answers fans' questions

Inbox: Rockies' chief concern vs. D-backs?

DENVER -- Sundays' 4-3 home loss to the Padres was deflating for Rockies fans, especially since it reduced the lead over the Brewers for the second National League Wild Card to 2 1/2 games -- with Milwaukee having a chance to trim it further Monday night, with the Rockies off.

But in perspective, the blown save charged to righty Scott Oberg in the eighth inning was the Rockies' first since Aug. 24. And the loss, when closer Greg Holland issued a key walk that led to the winning squeeze bunt, was just the Rockies' fourth in the past 14 games. And the first question in the latest inbox certainly comes from a place of optimism.

 

Yes, this assumes both the Rockies hold their lead and the D-backs hold on to the top Wild Card and host the Oct. 4 Wild Card Game. And it assumes the D-backs go with Zack Greinke in the winner-take-all contest.

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Greinke is 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts against the Rockies this year. More specifically, he has made three starts against Colorado at Chase Field. While Greinke is 1-0, the Rockies won the other two games, and he has a 3.15 ERA in those games -- not bad, but a bit off from his 2.87 ERA this season. Greinke, by the way, is 17-6 and his team is 21-9 in his starts.

But by no means is Greinke an easy mark. The Rockies are hitting just .229 with 23 strikeouts and two walks against him this season.

There are some favorable Rockies matchups. In just 24 at-bats, shortstop Trevor Story has hit .333 with four homers and nine RBIs. DJ LeMahieu is hitting .311 in 45 at-bats with three doubles and seven RBIs, Carlos Gonzalez is at .293 with five homers in 42 at-bats, and Mark Reynolds is hitting .194 but with four homers in his 36 at-bats.

Greinke makes the Rockies earn their success. After throwing six innings on April 29, Greinke has thrown at least seven in every start since against Colorado. Since walking two in the first meeting, he hasn't walked a single batter.

So the offensive keys are to take advantage of his few mistakes over the plate, and be sure to drive up his pitch count by spoiling pitches at the perimeter of the strike zone. And, quite simply, the Rockies have to pitch well.

 

More optimism in this question. And it's a good one.

I have put together a story noting that although four rookies -- who weren't expected to carry the staff -- have made the majority of the starts, the more-experienced members of the rotation seem to be lining up for starts down the stretch. Lefty Tyler Anderson and righty Tyler Chatwood each have been stellar since rejoining the rotation. Chad Bettis is retooling his delivery, and the final starts will show if he can be counted on for the postseason.

As for the rookies, righty German Marquez has a chance at the rotation, but his stuff plays in the bullpen. Asked Sunday, manager Bud Black said lefty Kyle Freeland is better suited for bullpen work than righties Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman. Freeland's 55.6 percent ground-ball rate ranks sixth among NL starters.

 

As Miami deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma's effects, the series had to be moved on short notice and there is no good solution. You must have a stadium available and the ability to provide staff and proper law enforcement presence. Plus, with football season starting, and even hockey's exhibition season in progress, hotels are a concern.

The Brewers operated as the visiting team, which was about the best that could've been done. There could be all kinds of inequities, but keep in mind the people of a hurricane-affected area must come first.

Now for a double-barrel question:

In both cases, testing free agency does not close the door on a return. But in the case of Carlos Gonzalez, at some point Raimel Tapia and David Dahl, who lost his chance because of a rib issue that led to a back problem, will need to get their chances. We'll see what is out there for Gonzalez, or if the Rockies would be willing to bring him back and use some of their development players in trades.

As for Holland, on the whole, his work has been solid. He will be one of three late relievers up for free agency; lefty Jake McGee and righty Pat Neshek are the others. So the Rockies have decisions to make.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.