Going into the Arizona series, I wanted just three simple things out of the Rockies.
1) Don't get swept
2) Don't get injured
3) Get into the D'backs bullpen (at least a little bit)
Needless to say, Colorado failed miserably on all three counts. All they had to do in order to avoid falling more than 3.5 games back was find a way to take one game from a team that just completed a 3-7 road trip and had to play two games that went deep into extra innings earlier in the week against the Mets - Including a game on Thursday in which the D'Backs had to use every single pitcher in their bullpen.
Instead, the Rockies didn't even come close to taking one game, got outscored 22-2 in the series, saw Roy Oswalt leave yesterday's game with a strained hamstring and Carlos Gonzalez exit with a sprained middle finger, and allowed all three D'Back starting pitchers in this series to toss eight full innings giving their bullpen a much needed rest. Then there's also the ugly little fact that no D'Backs starter had earned a win since June 5th (!!!) coming into this series and then like magic, all three Arizona starters transformed into remarkably efficient pitchers and cruised to victory - Although at least Sunday's starter was Patrick Corbin who has been excellent all season, so that one is a little harder to get upset about.
No matter how you slice it though, this was by far the worst series of the season for the Rockies in terms of quality of play. (The first Washington series is still worse overall in my mind because of the injuries suffered by Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler) This was the only time all year I felt like the Rockies had little to no shot to win the game by the middle innings all three nights. It was bad baseball, it was listless baseball, and it was depressing baseball - The closest thing we've seen to the year the shall not be named yet.
This series also underlined one of the biggest problems the Rockies have right now in that the bottom of the rotation can't win a game. In the last 11 starts by Rockies pitchers other than Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies are 0-11. In fact, the last time they won one of these games was all the way back on June 9th when they had to come from three runs down in the ninth before beating the Padres 8-7 in ten innings on a Dexter Fowler walk off single.
This is particularly brutal when you put it into the context of each trip around the rotation. If the #4 and #5 guys are literally losing EVERY SINGLE GAME they start right now, the only way the Rockies can have a winning trip around the rotation is if Chacin, De La Rosa, and Chatwood all help lead the team to victory. Colorado's chances on any given day with one of these guys on the hill are pretty solid, but asking all three of them to win every single time out is outrageous, especially with the Rockies offense failing to score more than two runs in six of the last eight games.
The front office has desperately tried to fill this hole, but no matter what button they push, they are not rewarded with an improvement in production. When Jon Garland started getting knocked around following his initial hot start, the Rockies cut him loose. When Jeff Francis faltered, he lost his spot in the rotation - And when it became obvious that Juan Nicasio needed more work in AAA to learn how to pitch deeper into games, the Rockies made that move as well.
Not only has every single one of these moves turned out sour for the Rockies, but they are made even more infuriating by the fact that guys like Nicasio and Pomeranz both seem to pitch better when they are in AAA. Some of this is undoubtedly the easier competition, but you have to think that starts like Nicasio's eight shutout innings with six strikeouts and zero walks last time out for Colorado Springs would translate into something useful if he threw like that for a night in Denver, but unfortunately, all of his recent starts in a Rockies uniform have been terrible.
All the Rockies really need out of their #4 and #5 starters is for them to go out and give the team a decent chance to win, but amazingly, it'been almost a month since that's happened. Perhaps the only good news here is that the All Star Break is going to create a stretch of ten games (seven before and three after) where the Rockies can juggle the rotation to ensure that eight of the next ten contests will be started by Chacin, De La Rosa or Chatwood. Combine that with the return of Tulowitzki and Fowler, and maybe, just maybe the Rockies can stop the bleeding on this front. If they can't, their season is in big trouble.
* * * * * *
One interesting thing I've noticed lately is that no team in the NL West has proven it can win on the road consistently. As you can see in the chart below, every team in the division is at least four games over .500 at home and at least two games under .500 on the road. This problem is nothing new for the Rockies, but the division as a whole seems to have taken this quality to extreme proportions this season.
It's also why I'm not particularity excited to face San Diego this week. They may have lost nine games in a row coming in, but all of those games were on an east coast road trip and they are now returning to a place where they've been solid all season long. On the flip side though, if there's one place where the Rockies seem to have success on the road, it's usually Petco Park.
If you're looking for some good news this morning, and I know I am, Thomas Harding has it as both Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler are set to begin rehab assignments tonight and could rejoin the team as early as Thursday to begin the Dodgers series if things go well.
If you're a glutton for punishment, Troy Renck has more on yesterday's disastrous game.
Renck also notes that the Rockies may look to make a trade for starting pitching now that Oswalt will be lost for several weeks when he officially goes on the disabled list later today.