MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Texas Rangers at Colorado Rockies

Date/Time: July 20, 8:40 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Nick Martinez (5-5, 3.43) vs. Chris Rusin (3-3, 3.98)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Colorado -130

Total: 11

Nick Martinez was doing his best to defy sabermetrics until the Texas Rangers sent him down following his July 1 start. He returns to the starting rotation on Monday against Chris Rusin and the Colorado Rockies. These are two teams that don’t really have a lot going for them right now. The Rangers were one of the surprises of the first half of the season, but regression has hit in a big way. The Rangers are just 3-10 in the month of July and have fallen well off the pace in the AL West. The Rockies are in the midst of another long season with the second-worst record in the National League.

The Rangers weren’t able to sustain their early-season success, just like Adam Burke said several times on his MLB betting podcast, The Bettor’s Box. The rotation has gone through some major regression and the shallowness of the lineup has certainly had an impact. Also, the Rangers are just 12-24 against division opponents this season. As for the Rockies, injuries have taken a toll on yet another season, as Corey Dickerson and Justin Morneau have missed significant time. Overall, the Rockies just don’t have enough pitching. They have allowed five runs per game so far this season. They are just 1-10 in interleague play.

Nick Martinez made some arsenal changes from last season to this season and they worked for a while. Over his first 10 starts, Martinez was 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA. Over his next six starts, Martinez was just 1-4 with a 5.91 ERA. The Rangers have been strapped for starting pitching for a few years now, which is a big reason why Martinez jumped from Double-A to the Major Leagues in 2014 without setting a foot in Triple-A. His two starts with Round Rock before the All-Star Break were his first at that level and he threw the ball well, but only worked six innings to fix some mechanical kinks.

This start at Coors Field will be a true test of Martinez’s changes. He opted for more two-seam fastballs in an effort to generate more ground balls. His 32.9 percent ground ball rate was one of the lowest among starters last season and it’s hard to pitch like that in Arlington. He also threw more sliders before his demotion, but it was ultimately poor fastball command that sent him to the minors.

The Rangers haven’t hit left-handed pitching well this season, which should benefit Chris Rusin. The former Cubs farmhand made 20 starts and 34 appearances for the North Siders before the Rockies took a chance on him. In 10 appearances, eight starts, Rusin has a 3.98 ERA with a 4.68 FIP and a 4.00 xFIP. His sustainability at Coors Field is questionable, because he’s a pitch to contact lefty. He has forced hitters to put 53 percent of balls in play on the ground, which certainly helps. In a small sample of 21 innings, the 28-year-old has held opposing batters to a .259/.302/.432 slash at Coors Field.

Offense is clearly in the forecast for this one with a total of 11, but don’t be surprised if these two teams can’t manage to get there. The Rangers have a .294 wOBA against lefties and an 81 wRC+. That wRC+ is tied for the fourth-worst mark in the league. Martinez and Rusin should induce quite a few ground balls, causing poor offenses to string hits together with some fortunate batted ball placement.

MLB Prediction: Texas Rangers

As much as I don’t really like Nick Martinez, laying -130 on the Rockies against anybody right now is a tough sell. The Rockies are just 21-24 at home this season, a place where they normally dominate, even in down years. If the Rockies don’t have a home field advantage, they don’t have anything. The Rangers are still playing hard for Jeff Bannister and the Rockies seem like they would rather be anywhere else on most nights.