Why can't the Rockies sweep a series?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

So far, Colorado has failed in each of its five attempts to sweep an opponent, with the sixth chance coming tonight. Is there an underlying reason for the team's struggles in sweep opportunities?

So far in 2014, the Rockies are 22-9 in games in which they are not trying to sweep an opponent, but 0-5 in games in which they are trying to finish off a sweep. Is this just some bizarre coincidence, or is there something underlying that is causing the Rockies to lose these games? Here are the results in sweep attempts for the Rockies so far in 2014:

4/6: D'Backs 5, Rockies 3
4/20: Phillies 10, Rockies 9
4/23: Giants 12, Rockies 10 (F/11)
4/30: D'Backs 5, Rockies 4 (F/10)
5/4: Mets 5, Rockies 1

The one obvious issue in the five games has been pitching, with the Rockies having allowed over seven runs per game in sweep opportunities and having given up at least five runs in each of the five games.

One thing the pitching struggles are not a result of is the same pitcher pitching a majority of the games. In fact, five different starters have started in the five failed sweep opportunities, Brett Anderson, Juan Nicasio, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles and Jhoulys Chacin. A sixth starter, Franklin Morales, will go for the sweep tonight.

As for opposing starters, it's been a mixed bag in the five games. The Rockies have faced Wade Miley (a guy with a good track record against them), Roberto Hernandez (nothing special), Matt Cain (up and down), Josh Collmenter (who started the season in the bullpen) and Dillon Gee (legitimately good). Not exactly a murderer's row of opposing pitchers.

The losses also have not been the product of any sort of Jim Tracy-style "Sunday lineup" in series finales. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado have started all five of the games and Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Morneau have started in four of the five games each.

Add to that the fact that the Rockies are scoring 5.4 runs per game in the five contests, just shy of the 5.9 they are scoring overall, and the offense is clearly not the issue in securing sweeps.

One issue in sweep attempts has been relief pitching. The Rockies bullpen has been asked to pick up 19 innings in the five games, granted two of them went extra innings, allowing 16 earned runs and picking up three losses in five contests. The bullpen's 7.58 ERA in sweep attempts is nearly double its 4.01 season ERA. In fact, when you take out the five sweep attempts, the Rockies bullpen has allowed just 35 runs in 95 1/3 innings in 31 games, good for a 3.30 ERA.

So, the likely cause of the Rockies' failure in sweep games is that they happened to coincide with bullpen implosions. In five games with what has otherwise been a good bullpen, it's very likely a coincidence, but it is something to keep an eye on as the season goes forward.

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