After another disappointing start yesterday afternoon from Jhoulys Chacin, Patrick Saunders has some quotes from the right hander as well as manager Walt Weiss. They seem to think the biggest issue is getting off to slow starts and throwing too many pitches out of the strike zone.
The numbers support this theory, as opponents have hit to a .946 OPS against Chacin in his first 50 pitches of the game this season and just a .664 OPS after pitch number 50.
The other problem has been Chacin's inability to keep the ball on the ground. For his career, Chacin has educed ground balls 48.3% of the time, but so far this season, only 40% of the balls hit against him have been on the ground. Since Chacin tends to walk too many hitters, this problem is amplified because he can't use ground balls to get double plays to get out of rough innings. So far this season, Chacin has only forced opponents to ground into a double play three times in 32.2 innings of work; or about once every 11 innings. Last year by comparison, he forced opponents to ground into a double play 31 times in 197.1 innings of work; or about once every 6.37 innings (with less traffic on the base paths too).
The solution here is for Chacin to get more ground balls, but if he doesn't start getting them soon, the Rockies have an enormous problem on their hands.
Blackmon and Gonzalez are both interesting topics; Blackmon because he's hitting just .209 / .254 / .259 in his last 17 games and Cargo because he's been struggling all year. In fact, over the last 17 games he's started he's been almost as bad as Blackmon hitting to a .200 / .279 / .283 line. This should allow Corey Dickerson to get more at bats on a regular basis since he's on a hot streak at the plate that begin in Rookie Ball at the Pioneer League in 2010. He's not going to OPS over 1.000, but the longer he keeps this hot streak up the more .900 becomes within reach.
As far as Brothers goes, I'm not sure what to make of him. He pitched much better in May than he did in April, but he's just not the guy the Rockies had in previous seasons. The other problem is that he's just given up almost all of his hits at the worst possible times as indicated by his WPA of -0.702 on the season. The Saturday outing where he surrendered the game winning run in the eighth after a lead off walk was a big step backwards for him.
I tend to think he takes it a bit too far however even as his general ideas are correct. This is the most interesting part of his post.
The reality is, we were all fooled once again. The Rockies made us believe that their early season success was a reality. They made us think that they had finally overcome the hurdles that caused them to struggle in years past and that this team was good enough, and had the right attitude, to fight for a playoff spot. With May coming to and end, reality has slapped Rockies fans in the face. It's the same old story all over again.
This is a team that has major bullpen issues, has major starting rotation issues, and can't hit on the road.
Here's the problem I have with this: Three and a half weeks ago, we knew the Rockies had major pitching issues and that they couldn't hit on the road (because they never hit on the road). The only difference now is that they've played significantly more games on the road as of late (16 of their last 21) and all these issues are more obvious. However, as long as the Rockies continue to hit at home, they will become less obvious over the next month when they play the majority of their games at Coors Field. In fact, the Rockies play 16 of their next 22 and 32 of their next 48 at home which takes them to late July when their pitching should be significantly improved.
The Rockies have yet another pitching problem: Their most obvious minor league candidate to replace Franklin Morales in the rotation got bombarded in Triple-A yesterday. Tyler Matzek has been excellent at times this season, but if he pitches like he did on Sunday when he gets to the big level, it's going to be very ugly. If Matzek could develop more consistency with his best pitches, he'd be an above average starter in the major leagues right now. But inconsistency is devil that's plagued him throughout his minor league career, so it should come as no surprise that it's still the last hurdle in his way as he tries to jump over the gate to the major leagues.
Denver native Kyle Freeland could go in the top half of the first round of this year's draft, and he might even end up in a Rockies uniform.