Monday, April 11, 2011
3 keys to scaling Rockies
By Mark Simon
There is no National League team that hates coming to New York to face the Mets more than the Colorado Rockies.
In their first 18 seasons, the Rockies are a combined 22-51 at Shea Stadium and Citi Field. Their 20-46 at Shea was the worst of any NL team there. (The Blue Jays' 0-9 and the Indians' 6-15 are the two AL teams that fared worse.) In their first two seasons coming to Citi Field, Colorado is a combined 2-5.
Whatever magic is present at Coors Field evaporates during trips to New York. In their seven games at Citi Field, the Rockies are hitting .203 with 13 runs scored.
What are the keys to a successful Mets series this time? Here are three:
Get Mike Pelfrey back on track
As bad as Mike Pelfrey has been, the Rockies may be his ideal cure. Pelfrey has made seven career starts against the Rockies. In five of them, including two last season, he allowed no runs, including a 1-0 win over Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
Pelfrey’s turns against the Rockies came in games which he was able to throw his split-finger fastball for strikes. He was 21-for-26 in doing so in two starts against the Rockies in 2010, according to our data review. Of the 16 splitters that Pelfrey threw out of the strike zone, he got Rockies hitters to swing at 11 of them. (He gave up two hits, but got strikes or outs with the other nine.) That they did swing explains why Pelfrey walked only one hitter in 14 innings.
Todd Helton looms as Pelfrey’s chief nemesis, but Pelfrey played to the strengths of Citi Field in their last meeting. Helton entered their Aug. 10 matchup 6-for-7 with four walks against Pelfrey, but flied out three times in that contest. (Helton has been dealing with lower back trouble and has not started since Thursday.)
Did You Know? The Mets have pitched 13 shutouts in 144 games against the Rockies. That’s more than the Padres have, with 12 in 285 games.
David Wright needs to pretend he’s in Colorado
David Wright’s career numbers against the Rockies (.329 BA, 11 HR, 38 RBIs in 43 games) are a little misleading.
Break those down by location and you’ll see that Wright crushes the ball at Coors Field (.385, 8 HR, 29 RBIs in 24 games), but is rather pedestrian against Rockies pitching in New York (.250 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBIs in 24 games).
One encouraging sign from Wright in the early part of 2011. He’s 7-for-17 against fastballs from right-handed pitchers, missing on just five of his 41 swings (12.2 percent). Last year, his miss rate against fastballs from righties was nearly double that -- 22.6 percent.
Did You Know?Robin Ventura has the best batting average by a Met against the Rockies (minimum 50 PA), .423.
Boosted by a 3-for-9 on Sunday, the Mets raised their batting average with runners in scoring position to .253, which looks a bit more respectable now, and maybe that turnaround will continue. If so, it would mean that the Rockies' pitching performance has been victimized by the law of averages.
Within the small sample size of 2011, Rockies pitchers have been fantastic in such situations. Opponents are just 11-for-69 against them so far (.159 opponents batting average). Jorge De La Rosa, starting later in this series, has held opponents hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season.
Did You Know? Our best leftover note from the weekend is this one: Chris Young became the fifth pitcher in Mets history to allow one hit in seven innings or fewer in a game in which the Mets lost. The other four: Tug McGraw, Sid Fernandez, David Cone and Tom Glavine.