Podcast: Summit Daily Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves superfans school sports editor to preview weekend series
Calling all Summit County baseball fans!
Here at our Frisco office we have a pair of MLB superfans in assistant editor Susan Gilmore and reporter Sawyer D’Argonne.
Susan is from Lakewood and has grown up right along with the Colorado Rockies as the franchise has become a linchpin of the Denver and Greater Colorado sports culture. Sawyer, also a Colorado native, has a soft spot in his heart for the Rockies, having attended many a Coors Field outing in his life. But the intrepid young reporter’s baseball allegiance truly lies with the Atlanta Braves, a franchise Sawyer has followed diligently since watching nationally-televised games on the TBS TV station as a kid in Colorado.
So come along for the ride as Sawyer and Susan go toe-to-toe to preview this weekend’s Rockies-versus-Braves series. Look online for the extended podcast conversation, where the two Summit Daily editorial staff members go through the ins and outs of each team thus far this season. Susan and Sawyer school sports & outdoors editor Antonio Olivero on what he needs to know about each team and Major League Baseball in general a month into the 2019 season.
In the half-hour conversation, the Summit Daily trio gets into the nitty-gritty of this MLB matchup, but read below for a tease of that full-length, fun-loving and information-filled discussion and debate:
Antonio Olivero, sports & outdoors editor
Rockies for the win
The Colorado Rockies are streaking. They aren’t running through the outfield in their birthday suits, but their path through this young baseball season has been just as unexpected and, at times, terrifying. Bouncing from an eight-game losing streak to a five-game winning streak, it’s hard to get a finger on the pulse of this team.
Far from past Rockies teams, they’ve relied heavily on commanding pitching out of the top three starters this season, with the offensive side being, you guessed it, streaky. The beneficiary of a six-year contract extension last April, Charlie Blackmon was flirting with the Mendoza Line — a batting average under .200 — heading into the series with the Phillies, when he suddenly found his bat. His first home run of the season came in walk-off fashion, propelling the Rockies to a 12th inning victory. The next day he followed it up with another home run in his first at bat. On April 16 he was hitting .219 and by April 23 he was up to .280.
Heading into the weekend series with the Braves, the Rockies will again look to their starting pitchers to set the tone against a tough Braves lineup. Anthony Senzatela is scheduled to start the first game, and is a bit of wild card as an injury kept him sidelined until April 15. He is 1-1 on the short season with a 3.55 ERA, and is more than capable of stepping into a quality pitching performance against the Braves. For the second game, Rockies’ ace Jon Gray, who already has 30 strikeouts on the season and has been pitching deep into games, will take the hill. Tyler Anderson is projected to start the third game, while still working his way back to form after a knee injury. In his first game back against Washington he only went three innings, and is currently sporting an all-too-beefy 12.00 ERA.
The Rockies will need these pitchers to settle in and give the bats a chance in order to get a series win. On the offensive side, the Rockies must stay patient as the Braves pitching staff has been giving out more walks than most on the season.
The Rockies are also a much speedier team than they have been in the past, so it could be a good plan to utilize a small-ball strategy getting runners on base through walks and advancing on smart base running.
Susan Gilmore, assistant editor
The Atlanta Braves are looking to dump some ice on the red-hot Rockies this weekend, when Colorado surges into SunTrust Park on Friday riding an 8-2 record over their last 10 contests. But with the Braves returning from a six-game road trip, some hometown chopping might be enough to get the job done.
Despite a relatively pedestrian start to the season, the Braves find themselves just a half game back in what’s already become a dogged battle for the NL East. Unsurprisingly, it’s been offense that’s kept the team afloat so far. The Braves currently boast the best collective on-base-percentage in the league (a stellar .358) on the backs of MVP candidates Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña.
While scoring likely won’t be the biggest concern in the upcoming series — Senzatela, Gray and Anderson probably won’t strike fear into one of the best lineups in the league — it’s up to Atlanta’s pitching to keep the Rockies off the base paths. And for the Braves, it’ll have to be the starters who get the job done. A year after the Braves bullpen recorded the highest walk rate in baseball (11.3%), things are looking even worse this year, with the pen walking more than 14% of batters.
Luckily, the Braves will get some of their top arms to try to navigate a tricky Rockies lineup this weekend. Max Fried, who’s sporting a dazzling 1.38 ERA, tossed six innings and allowed an unearned run in his first matchup with Colorado this season, and will look to repeat the effort. The Braves will also welcome back Mike Foltynewicz for his first start of the season on Saturday after getting shelved with a sore elbow to start the year. Folty was an All-Start last season, anchoring the rotation with a 2.83 ERA and 202 strikeouts over 183 innings. The Rockies best chance to hang a crooked number against the Braves’ starters may come on Sunday, since veteran Kevin Gausman has been spotty in the early going, allowing three home runs over his last two outings.
After a two-game sweep in Colorado earlier this month, look for the Braves to snag another series win with Rockies’ pitcher German Marquez on the bench.
Sawyer D’Argonne, reporter
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