DIAMONDBACKS (28-25) AT ROCKIES (24-27)
3:10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, FS-A, MLB.TV
Zack Greinke knows the Colorado Rockies better than any team. He’s faced them 31 times in the regular season and once in the postseason. He is 12-6 with a 3.78 ERA in the regular season and is even better at Coors Field, going 5-1 in 12 starts.
So it is doubtful the one-time Cy Young Award winner is going to be intimidated when the Arizona Diamondbacks open a four-game series in Denver on Monday. And there’s a good chance the Arizona bullpen is going to get a breather with him on the mound.
Greinke (6-2, 2.89 ERA) has been the workhorse the Diamondbacks need. Since getting chased in the fourth inning of the season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he has pitched at least six innings in 10 consecutive starts and has lasted into the eighth inning twice.
Monday will be his second start at Coors Field this season. He went six innings on May 5, allowing three runs but getting a no-decision in Colorado’s 8-7 win. He left with a 5-3 lead, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.
Greinke reached a milestone in his last start, eclipsing 2,500 career strikeouts in a loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. He has 2,502 entering Monday’s start.
“I haven’t thought about it at all,” Greinke said after the game. “I didn’t even know that it happened.”
His manager did, and said it was a big deal.
“We all need to sit back and appreciate what that means and who we have throwing for us every fifth day,” Torey Lovullo said after the game. “He’s a very special, special pitcher.”
Greinke will go against Rockies right-hander Jon Gray in a rematch of the 2017 NL Wild Card game in Arizona. Neither pitcher lasted long in that eventual Diamondbacks win, and for Gray, it was a preview of how his 2018 season would go. Although he went 12-9 last year, he had an ERA of 5.12 and was so out of sorts at the end of the season that he was left off the postseason roster.
Now it seems he has started to turn things around. Gray (4-4, 4.62) has been Colorado’s best starter behind German Marquez and is coming off a seven-inning win at Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
“My fastball has gotten a lot better,” Gray said after the 9-3 win over the Pirates. “I’ve worked with my grip, and now (the fastball) is coming out a lot harder. It feels so much better. … It’s not cutting or sinking like it was. I feel like I’m attacking the zone better, and it’s giving me more confidence with my fastball.”
If the Rockies are going to start the four-game series with a win, Gray will have to be sharper than he has been against Arizona — especially at home. In four career starts against them at Coors Field, he is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA. Overall against the Diamondbacks, he is 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in seven starts.
The series is a big one for two teams trying to stay in the NL West race. Colorado is 24-27 after Sunday’s 8-7 walk-off win over Baltimore, and the Diamondbacks are 28-25 after sweeping a series at San Francisco over the weekend.
–Field Level Media