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New York Yankees vs. Colorado Rockies: Series Preview

The Rockies will face off with the Yankees for the first time since 2016.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not too often the Yankees get to host an NL West team in New York, but they’ll do just that this weekend as the Colorado Rockies are in town for a three-game series. The Rockies have been a dreadful team this year, and they undoubtedly miss their former players, Adam Ottavino and DJ LeMahieu. Prior to Thursday’s games, their bullpen is decidedly average, 14th in the league by fWAR, and they’ve been the league’s worst team by the same metric in second base production. The Rockies are dead last in their division and are very much limping along this season, but they’re still gonna play the games anyway. After all, someone once said, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over,” and I’m not talking about Lenny Kravitz. Let’s breakdown the series.

Game one: J.A. Happ vs. Kyle Freeland

It’s obviously been a tough year for Happ, whose homer rate is still at career-high levels, but he was solid last time out. He took the loss against the Blue Jays last Saturday. In 5.1 innings, he surrendered two runs, struck out five, and walked just one -- certainly not a bad line given his entire body of work this season.

Twenty-six-year-old lefty Kyle Freeland will get the ball for the Rockies in the first game. Freeland hasn’t found much consistency in his 13 big league starts this season after a pretty stellar sophomore campaign in 2018. He’s currently the owner of a 7.39 ERA and is making his second start after spending the last month and a half in the minors.

Game two: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Antonio Senzatela

It’ll be Tanaka time in game two. The 2019 All-Star went six innings and got the win against Toronto last Sunday, despite surrendering two homers. Tanaka’s been the rock of this Yankee staff while the rest of the rotation has gone through bouts of ineffectiveness, injuries, or both. The Rockies’ bats tend to chase pitches out of the zone, so maybe Tanaka can start finding some consistency with his splitter.

Antonio Senzatela is the perfect example of what happens to groundball pitchers who struggle with command. He’s currently sporting an above average groun ball rate, but his walk rate is north of 4 BB/9. Even worse, his homer rate is right around league average, which is seriously not good considering he only strikes out about 5 hitters per nine innings. It’ll be a short day for Senzatela if the Yankees get the ball in the air.

Game three: James Paxton vs. German Marquez

The final game of the series will pit James Paxton versus German Marquez. Travis d’Arnaud happened to James Paxton on Monday, which was his only bad mark on his pitching line. He went six, surrendered two runs, and struck out seven. As a team, the Rockies actually do pretty well against cutters, so there’s a chance it’ll be a hard day for J-Pax.

Marquez will start the final game of the series. His most recent outing was the worst of his career and the culmination of a string of bad starts. He gave up 11 earned runs against the Giants on Monday in just 2.2 innings. Even if we take away his last start, Marquez has a 6.43 ERA since June. To say he’s been struggling would be putting it lightly.