The 2013 season hit its low point yesterday, as the fans rained boos upon the lifeless Colorado Rockies. In the golden post-storm twilight, another strong starting pitching performance went to waste due to shoddy relief work and an apocalyptic offensive malaise.
Just what in the heck is going on? Colorado's offense was supposed to be its biggest strength this season, if the team stayed healthy. Troy Tulowitzki's injury was a handy excuse for the early July struggles, but even with him back, the offense has reached new depths of ineptitude.
This next paragraph is gonna sting. In the last 30 days the Rockies are dead last in the majors in runs with 72. They are 28th in home runs. They are 27th in average, 29th in on-base percentage, and 27th in slugging percentage. These numbers are not park adjusted, and Coors Field is still the best park in the Majors to hit. By wRC+, which assigns run values to each offensive event and adjusts for park factors, the Rockies trail the league at 61. The next worst is the Astros at 72. The Rockies' offense has been 11% worse than that of the Astros in the past 30 days.
Remember April? That's when the Rockies led the league in most offensive categories. They have essentially the same lineup now as they had then. In the last 30 days, the Rockies only have four above average offensive performers, by wRC+: Michael Cuddyer (139), Carlos Gonzalez (125), Todd Helton (113), and Wilin Rosario (108). Tulowitzki (45) has been a virtual non-entity. Dexter Fowler (48) doesn't look healthy. DJ LeMahieu (59) has a completely empty .270 average and Nolan Arenado (19) has really struggled.
The most frustrating part (well, a frustrating part) is that there aren't any obvious fixes out there. No prospect is knocking down the door at AAA. A trade to shore up first base might help; except the main first basemen, Helton and Cuddyer, have both been among the better performers recently. Sending down Jordan Pacheco would probably be a wise choice, but he hardly gets any plate appearances anyway. And his replacement, likely Matt McBride, would hardly be a panacea.
No, it seems the only real course of action is to ride the horses that brought us here. Tulo will be better. Fowler will be better. Rosario should find his power stroke. The hitting with runners in scoring position will get better (because it really can't be worse). Either these guys figure it out in time to turn the season around or the Rockies will cruise to another losing season.
Oh yeah, and in the last 30 days the Rockies starting pitchers have the 12th-best ERA and 11th-best fWAR. Remember when starting rotation was going to be our downfall?
Drew Pomeranz was scratched from his next scheduled start with a biceps injury sustained during a bullpen session. This probably won't have Rockies fans weeping in the streets, but in a bizarre way, this might be a good thing. If Pom was dealing with a nagging injury it might explain some of his ineffectiveness. Or it could be a phantom DL trip due to his overwhelming struggles.
Replacing him will be Colin McHugh, the return from the Eric Young trade. McHugh doesn't have a particularly long prospect pedigree, but he has a 2.94 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts with the Mets and Rockies.
A number of Rockies are kind of banged up. Carlos Gonzalez re-aggravated a sprained finger in his first at bat yesterday, causing him to miss half the game. Jorge De La Rosa apparently can't bunt without hurting his thumb, which led to a quick hook in his last start. And Jhoulys Chacin is still feeling sore from taking a line drive off the, uh, groin area. None of these injuries are expected to result in DL trips, but they're concerning nonetheless.