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National League West Showdown: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies

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Colorado’s bullpen has been outstanding this season, posting a 2.64 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 58 innings, including a 2.02 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in day games, a 2.89 ERA and 1.03 WHIP versus National League West foes and a 2.66 ERA and 1.05 WHIP at Coors Field.

Colorado closer Greg Holland has recorded saves in each of his first nine appearances with the Rockies. In contrast, the Giants’ bullpen enters today’s game with a 4.56 ERA and 1.79 WHIP on the road and a 4.61 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in afternoon affairs.

San Francisco right-hander Jeff Samardzija is off to a terrible start in 2017, toeing the rubber with a 6.16 ERA and 1.42 WHIP across three starts, including a 10.13 ERA and 1.87 WHIP on the road.

The most surprising development for the 32-year-old has been his 11.39 K/9 rate, which is much higher than his 8.10 K/9 career average.

However, Samardzija owns an alarming 1.89 HR/9 rate and has seen his hard contact rate increase from 31.5% in 2016 to 34.0% this season. Batters are also squaring up on Samardzija’s pitches as evidenced by his 33.3% line drive rate, which has increased from last year (19.9% LD%).

In his two most recent outings against the Rockies, Samardzija has allowed a combined six earned runs on 15 hits over 13 innings of work. Colorado rookie Kyle Freeland takes the mound with a 4.91 ERA and 1.70 WHIP through his first three outings.

The 23-year-old was the Rockies’ top pick in the 2014 Draft and earned a rotation spot after going 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA in six spring training appearances (19/6 K/BB). Freeland has been regarded as the team’s 7th-best prospect and won his Major League debut against the Dodgers, throwing six innings of one run ball on April 7.

Pitching at Coors Field won’t do Freeland any favors, but his elite 63.6% ground ball rate has helped him maintain a decent 0.61 HR/9 rate.

From a technical standpoint, Colorado is 5-1 in its last six National League West affairs and 9-2 in its last 11 games versus .399 or worse opposition while the home team is 45-20 with umpire Clint Fagan behind the plate.

The Rockies have also won four straight in this series and are 4-1 in the last five meetings at Coors Field. The Giants are 5-16 in Samardzija’s last 21 starts, including 1-10 in Samardzija’s last 11 starts versus .501 or greater opposition and 0-4 in his last four starts versus National League foes.

Take the Colorado Rockies as Oskeim Sports’ Free National League West Sports Pick for Sunday, April 23.

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