The Rockies are the surprise team of the young season. They are now one of four 10-win games in the NL West, sitting just a few games behind the Padres, Dodgers, and Giants.
However, I’m not overly sold on Colorado just yet. The Rox 10-7 record is backed up by a -12 run differential, which would provide an expected win-loss record of 7-10. Run differential tends to be a better predictor of future success than the actual win-loss record, so I’d maybe look to fade Colorado moving forward.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has an 8-10 record but a +2 run differential. There’s not a ton of positive regression we can expect from that, but it’s worth mentioning.
The real disappointment in Philadelphia is their inability to keep up with the red-hot Mets, who are now five games up on the Phillies.
The Phillies’ attempt to gain in the divisional race starts with this home series against the Mets.
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for the game.
Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies Giants Odds
With Zack Wheeler on the mound, it’s no wonder the Phillies are laying almost -200 in this matchup.
Wheeler was the runner-up in the NL Cy Young voting in 2021, pitching a league-high 213 ⅓ innings with an xFIP under 3.00. He also recorded over 10.00 K/9 and under 2.00 BB/9.
Opposing him is Antonio Senzatela, who has miraculously avoided disaster this season. He’s striking out a measly 3.4 batters per nine innings pitched and surrendering a .463 BABIP, yet has managed to keep his ERA in the mid-4.00s. His xERA is way above 7.00,
So, the starting pitching matchup is firmly in Philadelphia’s corner.
But what does Colorado have going for it? Are the Rockies worth a look at almost 2-to-1 odds?
Colorado Rockies Starting Lineup
DH Connor Joe R
RF Charloe Blackmon L
LF Kris Bryant R
1B C.J. Cron R
CF Randall Grichuk R
3B Ryan McMahon L
C Elias Diaz R
2B Brendan Rodgers R
SS Jose Iglesias R
Colorado Rockies vs Zack Wheeler
So, I’m a little worried about Wheeler heading into 2022.
Through three starts, the reigning innings leader has tossed a measly 12 ⅔ innings, good for just over four per game. He’s done so with a whopping 8.53 ERA and 4.53 xFIP.
Wheeler’s strikeouts are done. Wheeler’s walks are up. Wheeler’s WHIP is way up (1.01 in 2021, 1.66 in 2022). His reputation as a truly dominant ace has been questioned, especially after a seven-run effort against Miami and a four-run effort against Milwaukee – two of the league’s less-scary lineups.
Wheeler’s BABIP is up over .370, and that should regress to the league average .300 mark. Plus, his stranded runner rate is just 53.1% after hovering around 73.5% for his career. As those marks come back around, so will his ERA.
But I am extremely worried about his arsenal. He’s lost two ticks of velocity on his fastballs and three on his changeup. In fact, all of his pitches have seen a dip in speed in the early going.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
Wheelers’ spin rate is down too, although it’s not nearly as concerning of a dip.
But either way, there’s enough between the three aspects of Wheeler’s game to show probable cause for concern.
Now, can Colorado take advantage of Wheeler?
Maybe. The Rox have posted an above-average 104 wRC+ so far this season, although that number drops to 101 against righties. They’ve been surprisingly good on the road, especially power-wise (.175 ISO, fourth in MLB).
CJ Cron has been a menace. He’s tied for the league lead in home runs (six) and fourth in RBIs (17). He’s batted to a .952 OPS and a 156 wRC+ through the young season, relying mostly on a .358 ISO.
Cron’s BABIP is only .302, so there isn’t much reason to believe he won’t continue to cook. His 2.8% walk rate is somewhat concerning, however.
Philadelphia Phillies Starting Lineup
2B Jean Segura R
1B Rhys Hoskins R
DH Bryce Harper L
RF Nicholas Castellanos R
C J.T. Realmuto R
LF Kyle Schwarber L
3B Alec Bohm R
SS Didi Gregorius L
CF Odubel Herrera L
Philadelphia Phillies vs Antonio Senzatela
Over the last three years, the Rockies staff has figured out how to pitch at Coors Field. And miraculously, the staff has done so at the expense of road starts.
Senzatela is no exception to that rule.
In 2020, Senzatela pitched to a 2.10 home ERA and a 4.62 road ERA. In 2021, Senzatela pitched to a 3.47 home ERA and a 5.05 road ERA.
And through three starts in 2022, Senzatela has pitched to a 2.16 home ERA and a 9.00 road ERA.
The sample size is small, as he only made one road start this season, allowing five runs over five innings at Comerica. But he’s tossed 8 ⅓ innings at Coors against the Dodgers and Cubs and only allowed two earned.
I have no reasonable explanation for this. But it’s too important to rule out.
With Senzatela, you’ll get a steady dose of four-seam fastballs, although he’s thrown it less and less over the years. It’s an average arsenal, but he tends to not miss his spots, finishing with one of the best walk rates over the past few seasons. And this year, he’s walked less than 2% of batters faced.
However, Senzatela has finished in the bottom 5% of qualified pitchers in strikeout rate in four straight seasons. He’s not going to miss his spots, but he won’t miss any bats either.
I’m unsure if the Phillies will take advantage of that. The Phillies are average in zone contact rate (80.1%) but are one of the worst teams in the league in chase contact rate (53.5%). Theoretically, Senzatela won’t get the lineup to chase, but the Phillies might not be able to take advantage of the soft-tossing zone-thrower that is Antonio.
Overall, the Philly offense has been fine. The Phils have a top-10 wRC+ at 112 and a top-seven OPS at .733. They should only see positive regression, as the Phillies’ .274 xBA is second in MLB.
At the least, seven of Philadelphia’s normal nine-man lineup have an OPS+ above average, and newly signed Nick Castellanos leads the way at 162.
Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies Pick & Prediction
My pick: Colorado Rockies ML (+170 at WynnBet), Over 7.5 (-105 at BetMGM)
I think there’s some value in the Rockies here.
Senzatela’s road performance is an issue, but Wheeler has been a disaster in the early going.
The Phillies lineup has been solid, but Colorado is nipping on its heels in most advanced statistics. Plus, CJ Cron has the firepower to keep up with Castellanos and Bryce Harper.
In terms of the bullpens, both are awful. The Phillies rank 26th in reliever xFIP this season (4.08) while the Rockies rank 28th (4.18). So, the difference is negligible.
So, with the Phillies laying -200 on the ML, it’s worth taking the other side when the margins are closer to 50/50.
Meanwhile, between two underperforming pitchers and two underperforming bullpens, why not back the over? Both offenses have been fine, and the last three meetings between the two have gone over.
This total is super low at 7.5, too. So, it’s worth seeing if the teams can combine for a 5-3 game on Thursday night.