CM – Rockies vs. Astros: Bullpens could be a deciding factor

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The Houston Astros want to maintain or extend their lead in the American League West at home against the Colorado Rockies. Framber Valdez competes with Anthony Senzatela, both of whom have underperformed lately.

Everyone has a tendency to allow hard hits, so who has the edge between the two? Is Houston far better enough at any other facet of the ball game to warrant a sizable bet on the strong favorite?

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The Rockies managed to win seven of the last 10 and double-digit points in three of the last six. However, Senzatela did not have the strongest season. He only goes on a 5.1% clip, but just because he doesn’t allow free passes doesn’t mean he’s going to have a great day against the Houston Astros.

Plus, it’ll play into the hands of the Astros to be a contact pitcher as only four astro-hitters have a strikeout rate of over 20%.

On the relief side of things, Colorado ranks penultimate in the MLB in fWAR. Only four of their emergency workers have an xFIP below 4.00. If Senzatela can’t be at least five innings strong, only Daniel Bard or Zac Rosscup are impressive options this season. Joulys Chacin can handle some long offloading chores, but the depth stops there.

However, the Rockies have had six southpaw players as of July 1st, topping the WRC 100 mark, so at least the bats are working for them. Trevor Story has been on a hot hitting streak since the beginning of August with a 322 wRC and .857 OPS, so this has contributed to the offensive against the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs last week.

Houston’s Framber Valdez has a hammer of a curveball, but that should play into the hands of Ryan McMahon, Charlie Blackmon and Elías Díaz with their 10% gait rates in the season. Patience will prove to be a big plus in the fight against Valdez.

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The Astros, on the other hand, are only 4-6 in their last 10. Alex Bregman since June and Yuli Gurriel since last week are challenging for Houston, but Chas McCormick is a fantastic addition to the line-up.

From the right-handers seven batter are over the WRC 100 mark this season, excluding Gurriel. In this matchup, Michael Brantley should have a field day. His 7.3% gait rate negates Senzatela’s only strength. In fact, eight clubs over a .330 OBP should help turn for the Astros on multiple runs. If they can make hard contact, Senzatela would likely fold early and hand the game over to one of the worst bullpens in all of Major League Baseball.

The Astro Bullpen isn’t all that strong, but the addition of Kendall Graveman gives them in in this case a head start over the competition. They have a relatively league-average auxiliary corps, but they have a lot more options in case Valdez struggles early.

Ryan Pressly was elite with his 1.96 ERA and 2.48 xFIP, so the Bullpen’s backend is about as strong as anyone’s. Depending on how long, if any, one of their closers goes on Tuesday, that will affect this game, but more sensible options leave Dusty Baker some leeway in bullpen decisions.

These two starters have a tough one in this game Matchup in front of you. Both have some strengths (Valdez with his off-speed pitches and Senzatela with his accuracy) but both should have problems.

Yes, Houston has the stronger bullpen, but if Valdez has a rough first inning then probably everyone will middle reliever in action. Don’t trust the Colorado bullpen at all. Given this multitude of factors with some strong lineups, take the over 9 (-105) runs in this one and play to 9.5 (-110). It should be early enough.

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