On June 7, the Colorado Rockies were tied for first place in the National League West and riding high. In the week since, the Rockies have lost five straight games and come to the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Friday with as many questions as answers about themselves as the season heads into the dog days of summer.
Colorado begins a three-game interleague series with the Texas Rangers, a team also in search of answers, at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
The Rockies will send right-hander Chad Bettis (4-1, 4.40 ERA) to the mound for the opening game and the Rangers will counter with Yohander Mendez (0-0, 0.00).
Colorado activated right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino from the disabled list Thursday, and manager Bud Black said Ottavino would go right back into his late-game role.
Ottavino had a 0.95 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings before going to the disabled with a left oblique injury. The team went 5-9 without him in the lineup.
“Otto feels that he wants to jump right back into the mix of pitching deep in the game,” Black told mlb.com. “He’s ready for that. He doesn’t necessarily want to ease back in. Physically, he made it a point of emphasis to get his body in the best shape possible in the offseason. The year before, it wasn’t the case.”
Ottavino did not see action in the Rockies’ 9-3 loss at Philadelphia but will be ready when Colorado takes on hapless Texas.
The Rangers will attempt to end a six-game losing streak that included a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in 11 innings in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
With one out and the bases loaded, the Dodgers‘ Austin Barnes dribbled what appeared to be a sure out at home in front of Rangers reliever Matt Bush. However, Bush’s throw to home for the force pulled catcher Carlos Perez off the plate, allowing Enrique Hernandez to score the deciding run.
Texas is now a season-worst 18 games back of the first-place Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros in the American League West after suffering a two-game sweep by the Dodgers.
Bettis gave up three home runs and lasted just four innings in his last start, a home loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The good news is his velocity returned after a dip for three starts. He is a Lubbock, Texas, native who pitched at Texas Tech University.
Bettis will make his 14th start of the season and his eighth on the road. He has no-decisions and a 7.67 ERA in his past six starts since May 11.
Bettis has pitched against Texas only once, getting a no-decision on Aug. 11, 2016, in Arlington, a 12-9 Rockies win.
Mendez will make his first big league start Friday. In 10 minor league starts this season, he has an 0-6 record with a 5.26 ERA. In one relief appearance with the Rangers this year, he didn’t allow a run in two-thirds of an inning.
Mendez, who is ranked the Rangers’ seventh-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, has joined the ballclub from Triple-A Round Rock. He has been a September call-up for Texas each of the past two seasons, and featured with the Rangers earlier this season when he was called up May 3.
In 10 career major league appearances — all in relief — Mendez has posted a 0-1 record with a 7.31 ERA (13 earned runs in 16 innings).
“It’s going to be multiple starts,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said Wednesday about Mendez’s upcoming major league stint. “He’s going to have the opportunity to show us what he can do as a starter.
“We’re still in the business of winning baseball games,” Banister added. “It’s about development, but it is the big leagues, and you still develop and still give yourself the opportunity to win baseball games.”