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Colorado Rockies seeing success from unexpected sources

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The Rockies’ rookies have been impressive in 2016, but other unlikely sources are driving their success in July.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Five Good Things

1. David Dahl was called up

I can’t tell you how excited I was when this news came through the Slackroom. Dahl was one of the first prospects I ever followed intelligently all the way through his minor league career so it’s a little personal. I feel invested in Dahl and am blindly rooting for his success, especially considering the injury hardship he’s been through.

His initial success has only confirmed his talent. It’s an extremely small sample size, but like a few other Rockies rookies this year (see: Story, Trevor), he has gotten off to a tremendous start. In 27 at-bats, Dahl has 10 hits, three extra-base hits, and a .370/.393/.630 slash line with some solid defense in left. Unfortunately, Dahl has nine strikeouts in those 27 at-bats, again reminding us of Story. Dahl doesn’t have the strikeout history that Story does so it’s much more likely for him to regress quickly to a normal rate.

2. Tyler Anderson is a beautiful thing

The second rookie on this list has struggled with injuries, just like Dahl, only to see immediate success in the majors. The talent is clearly there; through nine starts, Anderson has done two things incredibly well: he’s thrown a lot of strikes and isn’t walking a lot of batters and the two are correlated. His 66.7 percent strike rate is outstanding for a rookie and shows that he’s attacking opposing hitters, putting them on their heels and contributing to his success.

3. Tony Wolters is just getting better

Wolters is just the icing on the cake. He literally came out of nowhere for Rockies fans after he was acquired from Cleveland and his defensive wizardry has endeared him to all. His defensive skills notwithstanding, Wolters has been one of the best hitters for the Rockies in the month of July. He’s third in OPS behind the two other rookies, Dahl and Story, with a .928 OPS. Tom Murphy is blowing up in Triple-A and, with Wolters’ offensive improvement, Nick Hundley is continually becoming more expendable by the day.

All these rookie make me so excited that I ... well... I’m just excited.

4. Scott Oberg is... good?

So, extremely small sample size alert, but Scott Oberg has been really good since his call-up earlier this month. In six appearances, Oberg has allowed only one run on three hits along with three strikeouts. What’s more impressive is the fact that, over the last few days, he’s inherited five runners, all with zero outs, and all courtesy of Jake McGee (see below). All five runners were stranded, key contributions to the first two wins of the Mets series. Does it mean he’s a good pitcher? No. At least, not yet. It doesn’t tell us anything besides that he’s pitched well in two incredibly tough situations. If he continues to pitch this way, that will convince the team, the fans, and most importantly me that he deserves to be a part of the Rockies bullpen.

5. The Rockies are in the playoff hunt gasp

The Rockies are five games back at the trade deadline and are within reach of the second Wild Card playoff spot. It’s the first time in a long time we’ve been able to have this conversation without resorting to “We’re not mathematically eliminated! slipping in there and it looks like it’s here to stay. The Rockies are finding success from different and unexpected sources; their rookies are performing and call-ups like Oberg are performing above expectations despite the recent struggles of Nolan Arenado. Role players picking up the slack for your star; a sign of a winning team.

Five Bad Things

1. Nolan Arenado’s cold streak

Arenado has struggled to a .233/.266/.450 line after the All-Star break. It’s not an awful line; the .450 slugging percentage suggests that when he does drive the ball, it’s finding the gap or leaving the park. He really just had an awful week; on this seven-game road trip, Arenado had three hits in 26 at-bats leading to a paltry .115 batting average. He is swinging at bad pitches and whiffing on good ones and is looking very uncomfortable at the plate. If the Rockies want to continue their run, it’ll largely depend on Arenado’s recovery out of this slump.

2. Jake McGee still hasn’t found his groove

The Jake McGee/Corey Dickerson trade is starting to look more like the German Marquez/Corey Dickerson trade. McGee has been straight bad in his last two appearances; five batters faced, five batters reached. It’s not really the fact that he’s given up the hits, it’s that he’s consistently missing his spots with his fastball, his only true plus pitch. He’s missing high, allowing batters to drive his pitches and limiting his effectiveness. If the Rockies are serious about a playoff run, McGee’s role will need to be reduced.

3. Ryan Raburn

After a torrid start in April, Raburn has been struggling mightily. He just turned in his second month with a sub-.200 batting average with a line of .154/.267/.256; a line that won’t keep him on a roster, regardless if the team is in contention or not. He’s actually been a solid pinch hitter (.241/.405/.552) and off the bench (.229/.372/.571), and while both are too small sample sizes to really tell us anything, but he’s seen success coming off the bench. Just don’t put him in the starting lineup, I guess.

4. Mark Reynolds has been striking out a lot again

Can you guess who led the Rockies in strikeouts over the last 30 days? It’s Story with 26, sadly. But Reynolds is not far behind with 24. Even with those strikeouts, though, Story has an on-base percentage of .367 compared to Reynolds’ .299. Story’s still finding way’s to get on base; Reynolds is starting to look like the old Mark Reynolds, not the patient singles hitter that we saw in the first half of the season. I can’t tell you why, but Reynolds is starting to guess on more pitches, a habit that has historically got him into trouble at the plate. Stop it, Mark! Bad!

5. Gonzalez Germen has shown his true colors

This was going to happen at some point. Germen got off to a solid start and Walt Weiss began to use him in early-game, high-leverage situations, a mistake by all accounts. He delivered a few times early on, but that wasn’t going to last. Opponent’s on-base percentage has increased every month against Germen, starting at .227 in April, .354 in May, .386 in June, and now .444 in July. Yikes.