Friday Rockpile: Scuffling Rockies need to turn it around

Patrick McDermott

Four straight losses have dropped the Rockies to .500

For the first time this season, the Colorado Rockies are playing a significant number of games without Troy Tulowitzki hitting in the heart of the order, and the cracks are showing. They haven't led in a single inning of this current nine game road trip, and they've scored a total of six runs in four games. Dexter Fowler's absence has compounded the misery, as his on-base ability is sorely missed at the top of the lineup.

Every team in the NL West is hurting. Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro are banged up for the Giants. Everth Cabrera, Jedd Gyorko, and Yonder Alonso are on the shelf for the Padres. Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Hanley Ramirez have been hurt off and on for the Dodgers. The D-Backs have lost Daniel Hudson, Brandon McCarthy, Adam Eaton, and Aaron Hill. No team survives a whole season unscathed.

However, it seems that the Rockies are particularly sensitive to the loss of their key players. The drop from Tulowitzki to Jonathan Herrera, Josh Rutledge, and/or DJ LeMahieu is enormous. But crying "woe is us" won't garner any sympathy. So how can the Rockies survive without their superstar?

First let's examine the schedule before Tulowitzki is estimated to return (around the All-Star break). This east coast road trip continues with three more games against the Nats, followed by two against the Red Sox. No breaks there. Then comes a one game make up game against the Mets. After that is a slew of intra-division games against all four NL West foes.

It's hard to see any path to an NL West crown without going .500 or better during that stretch. On the bright side, it appears that the Rockies have their best starting rotation of the year in place. There aren't any obvious weak points in the group of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Chatwood Roy Oswalt, and Juan Nicasio (well, maybe Nicasio). On the dim side, teams usually have to score runs to win games.

In theory, a Rockies lineup without Tulowitzki should still be around average. They need Fowler to return soon (fingers crossed concerning his fingers), but there's still thunder in that batting order. This current cold streak is disconcerting, but they aren't this bad. We just have to hope, sooner rather than later, that they figure out ways to score again.

This is the most crucial juncture of the season. Someone needs to step up.

Off-topic

Links

Dexter Fowler's finger is still extremely painful. MRI's haven't revealed any fractures, but it's looking more and more like Fowler will need a DL trip. Also included in the link are notes on Edgmer Escalona and Rafael Betancourt's return time frames.

Jeff Francis has accepted a Minor League assignment and is heading to AAA.

Grant Brisbee wonders how long you can admire a home run before violating the unwritten rules. Grant's default position seems to be that displays of emotion enhance the entertainment value of the game, and I'm inclined to agree.

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