ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (30-21)
at COLORADO ROCKIES (24-25)
First pitch: Friday, 8:40 p.m. EDT
Line: Colorado -155, St. Louis +145, Total: 8.5
Coors Field hasn’t given the Rockies much of a home-field advantage in 2011, but they look to reverse that trend when they host St. Louis to open a three-game set on Friday. Baseball scores.
Colorado just dropped the last three of its four-game series against Arizona, scoring just six runs total in those losses. They Rockies are now 12-13 (-8.7 units) at home on the year. On Friday, they’ll have struggling ace Ubaldo Jimenez (0-4, 5.44 ERA) on the mound.
Jimenez has not pitched like the Cy Young contender he was a year ago. While his stuff is still very good, his velocity is down (by an average of 3.1 MPH on his fastball) and he continues to struggle with command. Among National League pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, only the Reds’ recently-demoted Edinson Volquez has a worse walk rate than Jimenez (5.64 per 9 innings).
Jimenez’s last start was somewhat encouraging in that he held the Brewers to two earned runs and two hits over eight innings, but he also walked five, hit a batter and struck out only four. Colorado is just 1-7 (-9.4 units) in Jimenez’s starts this year, and he has been especially awful at home (0-3, 7.36 ERA, 1.71 WHIP), giving up at least three runs in each of his five starts at Coors. The good news is that Jimenez dominated the Cards twice last year, allowing just one run and six hits over 16 innings while striking out 16. And All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday (quad) is questionable at best again for St. Louis. Baseball odds.
St. Louis will start the equally inconsistent Jake Westbrook (4-3, 5.17 ERA). Solid after landing with the Cards at last year’s trade deadline, Westbrook got off to a nightmare start in 2011, uncharacteristically struggling with his command. He seems to have gotten himself straightened out of late though. After a meltdown in Wrigley Field on May 11 (five runs in 2.1 innings), Westbrook has allowed just one run in 15 innings in his past two starts. He hasn’t overpowered though, posting a miserable 4 K and 6 BB in those two starts (vs. Philadelphia and at Kansas City).
Last October 1, Westbrook shut down the Rockies for 7.2 innings in St. Louis, striking out nine, walking one, and allowing just four hits in a win. This will be his first career start in Coors Field, but as a groundball specialist (60.7% ground ball rate, third best among MLB pitchers this year) he should be a good fit. That, combined with the Cards’ recent run in road games (4-1 in past five on road, albeit at K.C. and San Diego) is why I’m going with St. Louis.
The FoxSheets have a few four-star trends working against the Rockies on Friday, including these two:
Play Against – Home teams (COLORADO) – poor hitting team (AVG <=.250) against an average starting pitcher (ERA=4.20 to 5.20) -NL, with a very good bullpen whose WHIP is 1.250 or better on the season. (42-21 since 1997, 66.7%, +36.2 units. Rating = 4*).
COLORADO is 6-19 (24.0%, -21.6 Units) against the money line after having lost 6 or 7 of their last 8 games over the last 2 seasons. The average score was COLORADO 3.9, OPPONENT 5.2 – (Rating = 4*). Baseball spreads.