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Rockies Vs. Braves Series Preview: Colorado, Ubaldo Jimenez Return To Turner Field

The under-performing Colorado Rockies will be in Atlanta for a four-game series this week as Atlanta looks to continue gaining ground in the NL East and Wild Card races. The Rockies, who currently sit at 41-43, will likely be without slugger Carlos Gonzalez for the series after a scary crash with the outfield wall on Sunday's game at Coors Field. This is an unfortunate break for Colorado, but it is a pretty good sized advantage for Atlanta.

Let's take a closer look at Jim Tracy's club...

Offense:

Statistics and NL Rank:

Runs: 382 (3rd)
BA: .255 (9th)
OPS: .742 (2nd)
wRC+: 95 (6th)
SB: 52 (10th)
BB%: 9.0% (2nd)
K%: 21.4% (8th)

Missing CarGo will be a blow for the Colorado lineup, but they still have a few talented hitters who can do some damage at the plate. Troy Tulowitzki (.272/.341/.498, 120 wRC+) is the best shortstop in the game and is a wizard in the field. Todd Helton (.320/.394/.492, 132 wRC+) is having a monster season after a few years of slowing down and outfielder Seth Smith (.301/.353/.518, 129 wRC+) is one of the most underrated hitters in baseball, even though he tends to struggle against lefties. Catcher Chris Iannetta (.227/.384/.438, 123 wRC+) continues to get the job done and either walks or strikes out in 49.4% of his at-bats.

Third baseman Ty Wigginton (.263/.321/.504, 129 wRC+) has come out of no where to have a nice season for Colorado. Dexter Fowler (.238/.340/.348, 78 wRC+) still hasn't figured it out at the plate. Recently acquired second baseman Mark Ellis is 8-for-15 since joining Colorado last week. Charlie Blackmon (.280/.306/.329, 71 wRC+) has recently received a bit of playing time while Gonzalez is out. And don't forget about bench player Jason Giambi; he to be the best pinch-hitter in baseball with his big time power.

Pitching Matchups:

Monday, 7:10EDT - Tommy Hanson vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (SportSouth)

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tommy Hanson 9-4 15 15 0 0 0 0 89.1 62 29 26 8 33 97 2.62 1.06
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Ubaldo Jimenez 3-7 15 15 2 1 0 0 91.0 84 51 44 7 39 78 4.35 1.35


Tuesday, 7:10EDT - Derek Lowe vs. Jhoulys Chacin (SportSouth)

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Derek Lowe 4-6 18 18 0 0 0 0 101.2 100 48 47 7 38 76 4.16 1.36
W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Jhoulys Chacin 8-5 17 16 1 1 0 0 104.2 77 39 36 14 43 92 3.10 1.15


Wednesday, 7:10EDT - Jair Jurrjens vs. TBA

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Jair Jurrjens 11-3 15 15 2 1 0 0 104.2 88 24 22 5 23 63 1.89 1.06


Thursday, 1:05EDT - Tim Hudson vs. TBA

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2011 - Tim Hudson 7-6 17 17 1 1 0 0 106.0 95 49 42 8 27 76 3.57 1.15


Bullpen:

ERA: 4.13 (11th)
xFIP: 3.52 (3rd)
K/9: 7.61 (7th)
BB/9: 2.73 (1st)

The Rockies bullpen is pretty darn good. Their numbers are up a bit because of Coors Field and a little bad luck, but they're a capable bunch who can hold a lead. Houston Street has 24 saves and his talented set-up man is Matt Lindstrom. Lefty Matt Reynolds is very tough on left-handed batters and has been solid this year. Matt Belisle is their primary seventh inning man and Rafael Betancourt has pitched much better than his 4.73 ERA would indicate.

In conclusion...

The Rockies are a good team outside of their starting rotation. They'll miss Carlos Gonzalez, but they have a capable offense and two tough starters to begin the series. The Braves should win three of the four, but don't be surprised if Colorado battles back for a series split.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.