The Colorado Rockies just finished up a weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers during which they were outscored, 21-6, in three games.
So, yeah -- it's safe to say things weren't pretty in L.A., and judging by a look at Twitter or the comment section of any Rockies-related article, we've officially reached the annual doom-and-gloom stage. It's hard to fault anyone for feeling that way about this team considering it entered the season widely projected to lose at least 90 games. And, yes, there are a few things to be concerned about.
1. The road offense is easily neutralized
Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy needed just 92 pitches to get through six innings on Sunday against a Rockies lineup that got itself out on multiple occasions. Look no further than in the sixth inning, when McCarthy issued a five-pitch walk to Rafael Ynoa to start the frame. McCarthy needed only four pitches to get through the next two batters before inducing an inning-ending grounder off the bat of Troy Tulowitzki.
Charlie Blackmon, who thrives on being aggressive, got a hit while swinging on the first pitch, so it's hard to blame him. But Carlos Gonzalez, in the midst of one of his patented long slumps at the plate, swung at a couple of pitches out of the zone before popping up on a fastball right down broadway.
All in all, the Rockies drew just six walks in three games and didn't make a whole lot of hard contact after Game 1, DJ LeMahieu's line-drive homer on Saturday notwithstanding.
2. The rotation still has its problems
Eddie Butler was fairly efficient on Sunday and wound up allowing only two runs on five innings without walking a batter. He probably even could have gone another inning or two if not for Walt Weiss' decision to try to get some offense going in the sixth. But prior to the series finale, Rockies starters looked hesitant to challenge Dodgers hitters, instead choosing to nibble.
Nibbling has long gotten Rockies pitchers in trouble at Coors Field, but against a lineup as potent as that of the Dodgers, it'll get you in trouble anywhere. Kyle Kendrick issued four walks and threw just 56 of 104 pitches for strikes on Friday. Worse, he lasted only five innings. Jordan Lyles started off OK on Saturday before eventually finishing with five walks and 41 balls in 95 pitches.
The bullpen, which has mostly been spectacular minus a couple of outings, might not continue to be that way if the starting rotation can't find a way to be more efficient. Weiss' decisions come into play, here, too; it was understandable for him to remove Butler when he did today, but as the season goes along, it might be more beneficial to the team to get that extra inning out of a starter when it's possible.
3. The Dodgers are good
Los Angeles entered the season as the clear favorite to win the division. Now, the Dodgers on a seven-game winning streak and have won nine of their first 12 games. Regardless of how well the Rockies play, it's going to be hard to compete with these guys over the course of the season.
Colorado didn't play all that well in this series, especially in the finale. It's easy to forget that the Dodgers deserve at least some credit for that. The likes of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Howie Kendrick and Joc Pederson will make a lot of teams look bad in 2015.
That's about the gist of what we should really be worried about at this point in the season. The team had some defensive lapses in L.A., but the Rockies are going to be OK in that department. I've seen a lot of bellyaching about the bullpen, too, but take away Scott Oberg's awful outing today and a few others in recent games (two from LaTroy Hawkins and one from Brooks Brown come to mind), and you have a unit that has performed tremendously and doesn't really show any signs of stopping.
And, of course, the starting rotation will get a big shot in the arm on Monday when Jorge De La Rosa makes his 2015 debut. De La Rosa is a notoriously slow starter, so the gains of his return might not be immediately realized. But the unit is much better off with him than without him, and maybe his presence will force a couple of his rotation mates to step up their game.
The season's not over yet, folks. The Rockies play four non-weekend games (the Rox are 1-5 in contests taking place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) this week and do so at the friendly confines of Coors Field. Before you know it, the club could be 11-5 or 10-6 and have its fans thinking optimistically again rather than panicking up a storm as the group is now.