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Series Preview: New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies

Colorado has won just one game since being swept by the Mets last week.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We're just about done with a week that had too many off days, and now it's time to get back to regularly scheduled Mets baseball... as long as the rainy season in Colorado is done for. If we get sunshine in Denver, the Mets will play three games this weekend against the same Rockies club that they finished sweeping a week ago.

Here's where we'd normally talk about how beating the Rockies at Coors Field is a totally different task than beating them anywhere else, but Colorado hasn't been that good at home this year (27-33, as opposed to 22-37 on the road). In fact, in their recent season series versus Washington, the Rockies had more success at Nationals Park than Coors Field. Overall, Colorado split six games with the Nationals, which has helped the Mets maintain a four-game lead in the National League East despite recent setbacks in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

The Rockies avoided a sweep in last night's series finale by somehow winning a pitcher's duel between Yohan Flande and Max Scherzer. Then, something even stranger happened. The Colorado bullpen pitched a pair of scoreless innings to come away with a 3-2 win!

Last time Colorado faced the Mets we talked about how the Rockies' rotation wasn't great, but the their bullpen might be even worse. Even though most of the relievers are seriously under-performing their FIP, you can't ignore how ugly the ERA numbers are. The pen's workhorse, Christian Friedrich is at 5.44 in 50 innings, while newly reinstated closer Jon Axford has a 4.65 ERA in 40.2 innings. Before that, Tommy Kahnle briefly held the closer role with a 4.99 ERA that was mostly due to a 16-percent walk rate (and, of course, home runs). This is a club that seriously misses LaTroy Hawkins, who was pitching effectively for Colorado by limiting walks and fly balls.

It's amazing how that works out, isn't it? Doing both those things at the same time in Colorado, however, is easier said than done. And even if the Rockies had an above-average bullpen, research by Purple Row shows that the team wouldn't be that much better. It would at least be less frustrating to follow, though. Mets fans, who are experiencing some bullpen trouble of their own lately, should be familiar with that notion.

Reyes got his groove back

Something else Mets fans are familiar with is Jose Reyes, the once amazing shortstop who is now merely very good at what he does. The 32-year-old veteran had not been playing well since being traded to Colorado from Toronto, but he finally started to heat up this week against Washington (how convenient). In the first game of that series, Reyes notched four hits, including the first home run of his Rockies career. Last night, he picked up three more hits with an RBI and a run scored.

Numbers like that make me believe a little bit in the theory that Colorado will flip Reyes over the winter once his numbers are inflated by the Coors Field bump. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that modern front offices know how to adjust for the park a player works in as well as several other factors. Either way, if you look at Reyes's age, contract (two years after this one, plus an option), and declining WAR since his Mets days, he doesn't look like part of Colorado's future. If New York ownership could just get its finances in order, rumors of Reyes's return to Queens would grow quite loud this offseason.

Another bat the Mets have to watch out for is Carlos Gonzalez. He appeared to cool down during the final three games of Colorado's series at Citi Field after hitting a home run in the opener, but then the left-handed slugger heated back up again with dingers in back-to-back games last week.

It looked like Gonzalez's best days were behind him after a disastrous, injury-riddle 2014 campaign, but his recent resurgence (and the fact that he's still only 29 years old) makes him seem like an affordable asset that the Rockies might still be able to build around.

50 pitches of Gray

Jon Gray has been very impressive so far in his debut campaign, but the Rockies are being very careful with his pitch count. It's not that big of a deal due to the rebuilding nature of the franchise, but that caution is costing Colorado potential wins. Against the Mets, Gray was dominating with one run allowed in six innings before being lifted and watching the bullpen lose the game. In his most recent start, Gray held the Padres to one run, four hits, and no walks in five innings before leaving the game with a 3-1 lead. That advantage didn't even last a single frame, however, as Gonzalez Germen let up three runs in the sixth.

All this is good news for the Mets, who see Gray again tonight. With Bartolo Colon on the mound for New York, the Mets could fall behind early, but with Colorado's rookie unlikely to reach the seventh inning, there will always be a chance for a comeback.

Saturday should also be interesting when you consider how well Chris Rusin has pitched recently. After holding the Mets to one run in six innings on August 11, he shut out the Padres in a rare Coors Field complete game last Sunday. Although Rusin had been struggling a bit before these last two starts, he has done well to limit walks and fly balls this year. Like we said before, that's a great formula for success at Coors Field, so it will be fun to see if it can continue. If Rusin doesn't pitch as well this time, the increasingly reliable Jon Niese should be able to take advantage for the Mets.

Date Time Television Mets Probable Starter Rockies Probable Starter
August 21, 2015 8:40 PM SNY, MLBN Bartolo Colon Jon Gray
August 22, 2015 8:10 PM PIX 11 Jon Niese Chris Rusin
August 23, 2015 4:10 PM PIX 11 Matt Harvey David Hale

The series will wrap up with Matt Harvey maybe pitching against former Braves right-hander David Hale. While Harvey has pitched well recently, his strikeouts are down and the Mets are thinking about inserting a spot starter on Sunday to give him some extra rest. If Logan Verrett or someone else makes the start, the Mets should be ready to score some extra runs off of Hale, who had solid ground ball rates in Atlanta but is struggling to find similar success with Colorado. He's allowed at least three runs in every one of his nine starts this year.

Prediction: Mets win two of three.

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