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Coors Field is a House of Horrors for First-Time Starters; Perez Doomed?

Colorado possesses one of the strongest home fields in baseball as the Rockies are 11-5 (+4.6 units) at Coors Field where they are batting .343 with a .391 on base percentage (7.4 runs per game; 28 home runs).  Overall, Colorado is batting .298 with a .347 on base percentage this season (5.6 runs per game), including hitting .346 with a .404 on base percentage versus American League opponents (7.0 runs per game) and .313 with a .350 on base percentage over the last ten days (6.6 runs per game).

Texas southpaw Martin Perez is enjoying a solid campaign as evidenced by his 2.95 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, and he has been particularly strong on the road where he is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.  The problem facing Perez is Coors Field, a venue he has never pitched in.  First-time starters at Coors Field have struggled over the years due to the altitude that changes the effectiveness of pitches.  “I know it is a hitters’ park but I just need to do my job and continue to pitch good,” Perez said.  “The ballpark is not what makes the difference.  It’s your mind and how you think.  Conviction is the key.”  This will be the Rangers first trip to Coors Field since a three-game series in 2006 when their starters were John Koronka, Robinson Tejeda and Vicente Padilla.  The Rangers lost two of three on that trip and are 4-7 overall at Coors since Interleague play began.  Rangers pitchers have a 6.20 ERA in those 11 games.

Based on historical results, I expect Perez is struggle in his debut at Coors Field, which is bad news for Texas fans as Perez is not supported by a very capable bullpen.  Specifically, Texas relievers own a pedestrian 4.12 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season, including a 5.01 ERA and 1.37 WHIP on the road and a 5.11 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in interleague play. Meanwhile, Colorado starter Jordan Lyles is finally living up to his potential as he is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 2014.  Let’s also note that Lyles is a perfect 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA and 0.95 WHIP at Coors Field and 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in his last three outings.

The concern for Colorado bettors is twofold: (1) Jordan Lyles is 0-5 with a career 9.82 ERA and 2.28 WHIP versus the Rangers, including two outings last season wherein he allowed a combined 15 earned runs on 18 hits in just seven innings of work; and (2) Colorado’s imploding bullpen that enters tonight’s game with a 4.97 ERA and 1.30 WHIP at home and a 5.62 ERA and 1.45 WHIP over the last seven games.  I’m also concerned by a nasty virus that seems to be making its way through the Rockies’ locker room.  The Rockies placed catcher Wilin Rosario on the 15-day disabled list with the same viral infection that landed infielder Josh Rutledge there Friday, and now they are hoping to stay ahead of a nasty flu bug that’s making rounds.  Manager Walt Weiss said several other Rockies are at lesser stages of illness.  It’s not as if Weiss has a creative strategy to stop the issue.

“Wash your hands a lot,” Weiss said.  “That’s pretty much what we’re doing.  There’s not a whole lot you can do.  We’re in a confined area.  We spend a lot of time together, flying on the plane.  It’s not a lot you can do when you get a nasty bug like this it tends to go through the clubhouse.  We’ve got a lot of guys feeling under the weather, not necessarily at the level of Wilin and Josh.  We’ve got a few different bugs running around in that clubhouse.”

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