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Rock mining week 14: a season to rival 2012

Doug Pensinger

With the injuries mounting and the losses piling up, I have decided to torture myself and you the reader by comparing this season to the horrible 2012 campaign.  For those who don't remember, that team went 64-98 on the season and was 33-52 at the break after starting off the month of April with a .500 record.  Injuries, the piggyback starter idea, and the hot summer in Denver were all reasonings for why that team did so poorly.  This year's team did slightly better to start the season so it may be safe from having a worse record at the end but it has been equally bad of late, with injuries as the most discussed cause.

This year's team has been in a horrendous slump since their trip to Atlanta that saw Nolan Arenado hit the disabled list.  Since that game, the team has gone 11-29.  The 2012 team was actually better over that same stretch of May, June and July.  The 2012 team had already dug themselves a hole, they were 15-27 on the 23rd of May, and went 18-25 on their way into the All-Star break. This was despite Jorge De La Rosa having spent the entire season on the disabled list recovering from Tommy John surgery, Jhoulys Chacin joining him on the DL at the beginning of May, and Jeremy Gutherie spending three weeks starting at the end of April recovering from a shoulder sprain(I can't remember if this was the falling off the bicycle incident).

In fact, that 2012 team looked like it was coming back into form at the end of May, finishing the month 6-2.  That optimism ended when Troy Tulowitzki developed a groin strain that would see him leave the active roster on the 31st of May and not return for the rest of the season.  Troy was followed closely thereafter by Juan Nicasio on the 3rd of June for a knee problem that would see him miss the rest of the season.  There were several other role players that were already hurt as well.  Here is the list of 2012 Rockies hurt prior to the All-Star break that year, their time on the DL, and the reason.

Name Date On # of Days Reason
Jorge De La Rosa 3 April 170 TJ surgery
Charlie Blackmon 3 April 11 Turf Toe
Josh Outman 3 April 39 Oblique strain
Jeremy Guthrie 23 April 22 Shoulder inflammation
Jhoulys Chacin 2 May 111 Shoulder inflammation
Chris Nelson 15 May 16 Wrist inflammation
Jonathan Herrera 23 May 30 Hamstring strain
Ramon Hernandez 24 May 50 Hand strain
Troy Tulowitzki 31 May 127 Groin strain
Juan Nicasio 3 June 122 Knee strain
Wil Nieves 9 July* 23 turf toe
Todd Helton 9 July* 18 hip inflammation

*=went on DL at All-Star break

As a comparison, this year's Rockies currently have eight players on the disabled list.  The 2014 team has already had more players hit the disabled list and they are still a week away from the All-Star break.  Here is the 2014 list:

Name Date On # of Days
Boone Logan 21 March 15
Jhoulys Chacin 29 March 35
Tyler Chatwood 29 March 15
Brett Anderson 13 April 84+
Michael Cuddyer 18 April 32
Josh Rutledge 28 April 25
Tyler Chatwood 30 April 67+
Wilin Rosario 3 May 15
Nolan Arenado 24 May 39
Carlos Gonzalez 4 June 33+
Boone Logan 5 June 30
Jordan Lyles 5 June 32+
Michael Cuddyer 6 June 31+
Eddie Butler 7 June 30+
Christian Bergman 25 June 12+
Jhoulys Chacin 29 June 8+
Nick Masset 6 July 1+

+=still on DL

This season's team has every right to fall off the face of the Earth.  It includes six starting pitchers, two of them twice, along with two thirds of the starting outfield who are still out and have combined to miss 96 days, and the starting third baseman.  If this team is to do better the rest of the way, many of these players will need to return to health.

The 2012 team went 31-46 after the All-Star break, still getting crippled from the injury bug.  Along with the already mentioned Jhoulys Chacin, Troy Tulowitzki, and Juan Nicasio missing the rest of the season with Jorge De La Rosa coming back just for a three game cameo, the team endured these injuries in the second half:

Name Date On # of Days Reason
Chris Nelson 16 July 21 heart irregularities
Jonathan Herrera 16 July 15 wrist inflammation
Jason Giambi 21 July 42 viral syndrome
Christian Fredrich 29 July 66 fractured spine
Michael Cuddyer 1 August 15 oblique strain
Jonathan Sanchez 4 August 60 bicep tendinitis
Todd Helton 6 August 58 hip tear
Edgmer Escalona 6 August 27 elbow inflammation
Michael Cuddyer 19 August 47 oblique strain
Eric Young 20 August 46 intercostal strain

That list includes five players that would not play again that season, bring the total lost for the season to nine if you count Jorge.  The 2014 team has been luckier in this aspect up to this point with only a couple of injuries jeopardizing the player's season.  However, the 2012 team only used 14 starting pitchers the entire season, only 1 more than the 2014 team has already needed in the first 88 games.

This team has proved unlucky with injuries in at least two of the last three years.  Is it just luck or can the organization be blamed in some way?  The team has brought in some injury concerns in pitchers recently to include Tyler Chatwood, Brett Anderson, and Boone Logan.  The team also has had issues with diagnosing and treating injuries.  The re-injury of his oblique by Michael Cuddyer in 2012, the misdiagnosis of Brett Anderson and Michael Cuddyer this year, and a tumor growing in Carlos Gonzalez's finger without the team's knowledge are a few examples.  Whatever the issue, the team management needs to find a way to keep its best players healthier if it wants to be in contention with a low budget.  Unlike the Dodgers and Yankees, the Rockies do not have the financial wherewithal to replace these valuable players.

The Good

Two wins this week are twice as many as last week.  This team could easily have gone 4-3 if the taxed bullpen had not given up ties/leads late in two of the games and looked much more competitive throughout the week.

The Bad

Troy Tulowitzki tweaked his hamstring in Thursday's game but somehow talked Walt Weiss into letting him stay in the game.  A hurting Tulo then popped up late in a tie game with a runner on third and one out.  While popping out killed the chance for the Rockies to take the lead, it was almost better than him getting a hit and hurting himself worse.  That tweak has now had him out of the last two games.  Anything that bad should have got him out of the game on Thursday and Weiss needs to learn to be the manager instead of giving into Tulo.

The Ugly

While I excused the bullpen for giving up two close games this week, nothing can excuse the five run inning they allowed yesterday when they almost gave up the lead in an 8-2 game.  The manager needs to know who to call on to get an out and the bullpen can't give up more runs than outs in an inning.