The Rockies' bullpen took yet another step towards becoming the worst MLB has seen this millennium (according to the very telling Winning Percentage Added (WPA) stat) in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to the Nationals. The current title holder is the 2010 Diamondbacks with a bullpen WPA of -8.37, but 100 games into the season, the Rockies now have a bullpen WPA of -5.98, leaving them plenty of time to catch the snakes of four years ago at their current pace.
When Yohan Flande left the mound with one out in the top of the sixth, the Rockies were clinging to a 4-2 as the Nationals had the tying runs on the corners. Chad Bettis, who can't figure out the majors but somehow has a 1.72 ERA in 31.1 innings with the Sky Sox this season, was the first out of the pen and he promptly allowed both of those runs to score as he failed to retire three of the five batters he faced.
However, the big blow came the following inning. Brooks Brown started the frame by walking Denard Span and giving up a single to Anthony Rendon, setting the stage for Rex Brothers to face Adam LaRoche two batters later. Despite the left on left match up, LaRoche took Brothers out into the right center field bullpen for a decisive three run bomb.
It was the 31st time this season Rockies' pitching has allowed seven or more runs, and not surprisingly, the team is a dreadful 3-28 when that happens.
Offensively, the Rockies left runs on the table. The team actually outhit the Nationals 13 to 11, but a 2-14 showing with runners in scoring position including a big rally killing double play off the bat of Brandon Barnes to end the sixth proved extremely costly.
Still, there was plenty of signs of life from bats that are important to this team's future. Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson each hit home runs (Dickerson also recorded a double), and Josh Rutledge and DJ LeMahieu both picked up triples in the fruitful second and third innings. Ben Paulsen also continued his encouraging start with the big club, picking up two hits including a double to lead off the second.
The bigger story right now though is the pitching disaster and how it's fueled what could become the worst stretch of baseball in franchise history. With tonight's defeat, the Rockies are now just 6-25 in their last 31 games - Tying them with the 1993 and 2001 Rockies who each had a 31 game stretch of 6-25 baseball. Neither of those teams went 6-26 over a 32 game stretch however, so a loss tomorrow would make this the worst 32 games stretch anywhere in franchise history, which really tells you something. A loss tomorrow would also be the eighth in a row for the Rockies, tying the season long which was reached in a late May / early June plunge.
One more note: Tonight's loss sinks the Rockies 20 games under .500, making them the sixth team in franchise history to reach that depressing number at any point in a season. (The others were 1993, 2001, 2004, 2005, and of course 2012) Conversely, only one team in franchise history (2009) has every been 20 or more games over .500 at any point in a season.
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