Manager: Bud Black (3rd year)
Last 10 games: 5-5
Who to watch: CF Charlie Blackmon (4 HR, 6 RBIs), 3B Nolan Arenado (.311 with 1 HR, 6 RBIs), SS Trevor Story (3 HR, 6 RBIs), 2B DJ LeMahieu (.308 with 2 HR, 4 RBIs), RF Carlos González (2 HR, 6 RBIs), RHP Chad Bettis (1-0, 2.53 ERA), RHP Wade Davis (3.38 ERA, 5 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: First meeting (3-4 in 2017)
April 12: RHP Chad Bettis (1-0) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0) 7:05 p.m., MASN
April 13: LHP: Kyle Freeland (0-2) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (1-0), 7:05 p.m., MASN2
April 14: RHP Jon Gray (1-2) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (2-1), 1:05 p.m., MASN2
April 15: LHP Tyler Anderson (0-0) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-1), 1:35 p.m., MASN2
Inside the Rockies:
The Rockies needed a victory Wednesday afternoon to avert a three-game sweep at Coors Field by the last-place Padres in a battle of National League West teams. But losing four of six games heading into a four-game series in D.C. is the least of their worries.
Star third baseman Nolan Arenado expects to be suspended for the beginning of the Rockies’ first series of the season against the Nationals. Arenado was one of five players ejected Wednesday afternoon in the series finale against the Padres at Coors Field after a pitch was thrown behind him, igniting him to charge the mound. The skirmish got the Rockies rolling, and they followed the ejections with a five-run inning. The Rockies will hope to have stud center fielder Charlie Blackmon back for the series against the Nats. Blackmon, who’s listed as day-to-day with right quad tightness, was held out in Tuesday’s matchup with the Padres as well as Wednesday’s series finale. Blackmon, currently hitting .282/.391/.641 with four homers and six RBIs through 10 games, signed a six-year $108 million contract extension on April 4. Carlos González was held out of the lineup Sunday and Tuesday as he has continues to struggle against left-handed pitchers with a .176 average. The Rockies hope that third-year shortstop Trevor Story can rekindle some of the finesse that he showed in his rookie season, when he slugged 27 homers and hit .272, after slumping to .239 in 2017, when he still went deep 24 times. DJ LeMahieu hopes to pick up the pace against the Nats. Over the past three seasons, LeMahieu has produced a .473 slugging percentage at Coors Field but only a .385 mark outside of Denver.
Righty Chad Bettis starts tonight’s series opener, and he’s easily been Colorado’s most effective starting pitcher this season with a 1-0 record and 2.53 ERA. While he’s worked into the sixth inning in both of his 2018 starts, Bettis has yet to complete six frames. He’s 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in four career starts against Washington, with his lone victory coming at Nationals Park. Left-hander Kyle Freeland, Friday’s starter, is still searching for his first 2018 victory. He’s having trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark, allowing four homers in just 11 1/3 innings. He won his only career start against the Nationals in D.C. last July 30, but lasted only five innings. Saturday starter Jon Gray is coming off a Monday outing versus the Padres at Coors Field in which he lasted only five innings and gave up seven runs on 10 hits. He generally does a good job of keeping the home runs down, but with temperatures in D.C. expected to inch into the 80s on Saturday, the right-hander will face a challenge. He’s 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts against the Nats, but 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his lone lifetime start on South Capitol Street. Lefty Tyler Anderson gets the nod in the Sunday series finale and is still winless after three 2018 starts. But he’s pitched in tough luck, posting a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings in his past two outings. His only appearance against the Nats came last April 24, when he worked 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision at home, allowing four runs on six hits in an 8-4 Rockies win.
Manager Bud Black is expecting big things from his bullpen this season after the offseason addition of Wade Davis, who didn’t perform as well as he would have liked to against the Nats in 2017 with an ERA of 10.80. Davis’ three-year deal worth $52 million, is the largest annual average value ever for a reliever. So far, Davis has made good on the investment, converting five of six save chances.