It has not been an especially easy week watching the Rockies. Since last Saturday, they have lost the rubber match against the Tamp Bay Rays, lost two of three to the Yankees, and then were shut out last night by a rookie pitcher in St. Louis. Scoring only 8 runs while going 1-4 makes last Saturday's 9-3 win feel very distant. I don't think its time to hit the panic button quite yet (Jordan's Rockpile for today), but the offense needs to be put back together. Here are some things not going quite right for the Rockies and some possible fixes:
In the past five games, the Rockies have only walked seven times. Against the starting pitchers they have faced, they have only walked four times. They have only forced a starting pitcher to pitch 20 or more pitches two times in these five games (one of those being the lone win). Other than the rain delayed game, starters have gone 7, 7, 6, and 9 innings so the Rockies have not been able to get to a team's bullpen. The only reliever they got close to tiring out was Mariano Rivera who had to pitch consecutive days (and who would have walked three batters with a normal strike zone, still angry about this).
Even worse, last night when they were being dominated by a rookie pitcher, they got hyper aggressive. This allowed Shelby Miller to throw only 26 pitches in the last three innings. Nine batters came to the plate that inning and no one saw more than four pitches. I get that he had a great night but make him work and get him out of the game. If he threw 15 pitches in the seventh, he would have been over 100 pitches and likely would have been pulled out of the game. Instead, he doesn't hit 100 until the eighth and his manager leaves him in to get the shutout in the ninth.
Too much youth in the lineup
I know the idea is to get a lot of right handed batters in the lineup, but Thursday's group was not disciplined enough at the plate. I realize that Michael Cuddyer is day-to-day with a neck issue, but Todd Helton could have been a calming influence on the group. In that game, the lineup went through the 2-5 innings seeing 12, 11, 11, and 7 pitches. It wasn't until Adam Ottavino (a relief pitcher) had a 9-pitch at bat did the lineup get patient, they saw 25 pitches that inning and drew two walks. The youth that is in the lineup needs to be spaced out between veterans which gets me to my next point
If there is one thing that we learned this week, it is that Carlos Gonzalez likes hitting in front of Troy Tulowitzki. In the past six games, he is .364 with a walk in 12 PAs when Tulo is behind him in the order and only .091 with 5 stikeouts in 11 PAs without Tulo protection.
A huge hole for the Rockies lineup this past week was the number two spot. In their two wins, Josh Rutledge went 4 for 9 in the two spot, giving Cargo and the other bashers at least one duck on the pond. In their four losses, however, Rutledge, Fowler, and Arenado combined got on base only four times, a .200 average with one walk. While Rutledge did well in the spot for the two wins, he struggled in the other game he hit number two and I feel that Arenado (who went 2 for 5 in his only chance) is the best number two hitter of the three.
Whomever the Rockies decide on, they need to be consistent. The top five batters for the Rockies were only the same twice this week and were never in the same order. This is completely different from how Weiss managed at the beginning of the year. I know he is working around a couple of nagging injuries but hitting can be a lot about routine and none of our hitters look comfortable right now.
Rosario, Arenado, and Rutledge all need to be protected and nurtured in this lineup. How the Rockies do this will be interesting to watch and will determine how the season goes.
In the end, I think that slight injuries to Tulowitzki and Cuddyer, combined with Helton working back into game shape and several young hitters working through slumps has created a perfect storm of a bad week. The Rockies will turn this around and hopefully they do by Sunday as I am taking my wife to the Rockies/Cardinals game for Mother's Day (don't forget this is tomorrow). The Cardinals have a great pitching staff though, and it could be a couple of more days before we see an offensive explosion. On to the G, the B, and the U.
The Good-the pitching
The Rockies starting pitching has been keeping the team close this week (minus what I will call Chacin's rehab start). If we throw out Chacin's first game back from the DL, the starters have a 3.6 ERA in 25 innings in the other five games this past week. The bullpen has been almost light's out with a 0.43 ERA over the last six games. The lone blemish was actually an unearned run as Rafael Betancourt took the loss Wednesday after an error in the ninth.
The Bad-solo home runs
The struggling Rockies offense is still hitting home runs, but they have increasingly been of the 1-run variety. In the two wins, three home runs were hit, one 1-run, one 2-run, and Arenado's grand slam in his first bases loaded at bat. In the four losses, the Rockies hit four home runs, but only Helton's bomb was with anyone on base. The three solo shots hit in Sunday's loss was particularly frustrating as the team would have been able to stay in that game with any of those coming with runners on.
The Ugly-Fowler's slump
I don't know if he is still bothered by his sore hip, but Dex has not had a good May. In 26 plate appearances he is batting .091 with four walks, eight strike outs, and no extra base hits. He also had his first two errors of the season this week. This is a far cry from his April numbers that made me think he could be in his first All-Star game. Unfortunately, with Cuddyer nursing a sore neck and with EY and Cargo as the only other outfielders on the team, Weiss can't give him a break. A call-up of Colvin, Blackmon, or Dickerson is in order so that Dex and even Cargo can be given a day off.