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Monday Rockpile: Rockies look for answers in 2015, D'Backs commit unforgivable act

The Rockies' rotation needs significant improvement if it's going to be anywhere near as good as the team thinks it's going to be in 2015. Hopefully Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek, Tyler Anderson, Eddie Butler, and Jon Gray all finish the season strong.

Leon Halip

Drew linked this Patrick Saunders piece yesterday, but it deserves to be linked again just to highlight the brutally honest summary given by the man who follows this team as close as anyone. He wraps it up with the following money quote ...

"The bottom line, and the harsh truth: The Rockies are further from being a contender now than they were at the start of spring training. Bold moves will be required for them to become a contender in 2015."

The popular comparison record wise to the 2014 season is what the Rockies did in 2012, but the even uglier reality is that the rotation also has some very concerning similarities to 2011, where the Rockies had what appeared to be multiple reliable starting pitchers going into the season get injured or turn to dust. Losing starters like this is the worst thing that can happen to a franchise on the field, because not only does it wreck the current season, but it can also anchor the following season's record as well.

This is the depressing significance of the Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, and possibly even Dan Winkler injuries. The absence / uncertainty surrounding these arms makes retooling the pitching staff that much more difficult, because now the Rockies have to find additional arms to cover all of the innings these guys were going to throw in 2015 if healthy on opening day (Chacin is the only one who has a chance and with his injury there's a good chance he will never be the same pitcher again).

The arms in Tulsa will help before the 2015 season is over, and this is the one major deference between now that the winter of 2011/2012, but there a big difference between having enough pitching where you force the guys in the upper minors to knock down the door of the rotation and calling them up at some point next season because there's just no other answers. There's still a chance Jorge De La Rosa, Brett Anderson, and Tyler Matzek all finish strong, Jordan Lyles comes back and is the same pitcher he was in the spring, and that Gray and Butler both saved their best for the last leg of the season pushing them much closer to a position where they can have a positive impact for much of the 2015 season, but that's asking for quite a bit in a season where very little has gone right for this team.

The one forgotten piece who should keep 2015 from being as bad as some people think however is Tyler Anderson. While he has a much lower ceiling than Butler and Gray and still has not pitched above Double-A, he's much closer to reaching that ceiling in a major league uniform. The last segment of the season is about watching all of these arms to see if there's some kind of salvageable rotation to support a pretty solid offense, because right now it has a long way to go.

Speaking of Jordan Lyles,  he's scheduled to make an appearance on the Coors Field mound Wednesday for the first time since June 4th when he fractured a bone in his left hand. The start will break a streak of what will be an MLB record tying 20 consecutive games started by a left hander after Brett Anderson takes the mound on Tuesday in an attempt to snap Colorado's four game losing streak. I'm surprised this start has not gotten more attention, because Lyles allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his first twelve trips to the mound this season, and with this righty under team control though the end of 2017, his ability to make that success stick is arguably the most important individual story line surrounding this team between now and the end of September.

Around MLB

Andrew McCutchen had to leave Sunday's game in Arizona with what's currently being described as "left side discomfort". Hopefully he'll be back in action after a short rest, but he's going to undergo further evaluation today and if this is an oblique injury, a DL stint could be coming.

It's also very hard not to notice that this injury came just one day after McCutchen was plunked with a 95 MPH fastball in the ninth inning of the game on Saturday against the D'Backs. It appears as though McCutchen was struck a little more on the back than on his side with the pitch, but it was definitely on the left side of his back and very close to where the injury which forced him to leave the game on Sunday occurred.

This is significant because on Friday, D"Backs star Paul Goldschmidt was struck in the wrist by a pitch which caused a fracture, landed him on the DL, and likely ended his season. The D'Backs, driven by their Stone Age policies, retaliated the following day against the reigning MVP who had NOTHING to do with the unfortunate pitch that got away. Following the lead from their club, the folks over at the snake pit proclaimed what happened on Saturday as "Payback time".

This type of hot garbage orchestrated by the D'Backs organization is both dangerous and a disgrace to the game. Remember, this is the same organization that nailed Tulo in a spring training game and nearly destroyed his season before it even started. If Arizona is going to continue to dabble in this ludicrous activity in which they not only fire 95 MPH missiles at superstars, but also proudly proclaim it as a strategy of their "gritty" organization, MLB needs to take unprecedented action to protect its best players.

If McCutchen is forced to the DL, it'll probably cost him his second MVP trophy in as many years, and more importantly, it will severely damage Pittsburgh's chances at a playoff spot. If this injury is at all connected to him getting nailed on Saturday, that's beyond outrageous, and Arizona needs to feel some pain as an organization for allowing this asinine scene to take place. Fines have not been enough, suspensions have not been enough, so it's time to take the next step.

If this sort of thing happens again, MLB needs to start taking draft picks away. I'm all for pitching inside, I'm all for making opposing hitters feel uncomfortable at the plate, and I can even live with "sending a message" by throwing off speed pitches behind batters late in game. However, this is 2014, and MLB simply can't afford to have teams firing 95 MPH fastballs at superstars just because a pitch got away.

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If you're wondering which team is most hated in each state, continent, and Canadian territory, you're in luck (although after this weekend, the test should probably be run again to see if Pennsylvania turns sedona red). Not surprisingly, the Yankees are the most hated in places all over the world, but perhaps the funniest aspect of this link is the hatred for the San Diego Padres in Canada's northwest territories.