Five Good Things
That’s the Rockies record against teams above .500 in the month of August. The Rockies went 4-2 against the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and had the same record against the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. They took two of three from the world-leading Cubs and taking the season series against the team with the best record in the majors. The Rockies dropped three of four to the Texas Rangers and two of three against the Miami Marlins when they were still in the playoff hunt, but overall played up to their competition.
2. DJ LeMahieu
The least talked about story in the National League has to be DJ LeMahieu’s stellar season atop the batting average leaderboards. His .439/.534/.643 slash line in August is jaw-dropping, especially that on-base percentage. You have to try not to score runs when a guy is getting on base over half of the time. The guy hasn’t had a bad month this year, is leading the National League in batting average, and has been the second-best offensive player on the Rockies this year with Charlie Blackmon nipping at his heels. It’s pretty crazy considering he was getting subbed out in the sixth innings early in the year because the manager thought his bat was replaceable. I doubt we’ll see that again any time soon.
3. Charlie Blackmon
I can’t mention LeMahieu without mentioning Blackmon. Blackmon hit 11 (!) home runs in August and had a slash line of .360/.403/.730 from the leadoff spot. He dealt with a few minor injuries and is currently dealing with some back tightness now, but he’s established himself as a very productive center fielder.
4. Stephen Cardullo
Come on, what’s not to love. Independent-leaguer to big leaguer in less than a year. Just makes you smile. Take away his awesome birthday - two home runs, one of which was a grand slam - and it’s still a greater accomplishment than virtually everyone expected from him. You go, Cardullo.
5. Tyler Anderson
I’m pretty sure he’s been in the five good things section ever since his call-up in June. It’s a testament to just how good Anderson has been this year. He’s gotten it done in multiple ways; he’s had great starts with eight or more strikeouts and he’s trusted his defense, winning games with as little as three. He’s keeping batters off balance and is leading the rotation in both ERA and excitement.
Five Bad Things
The Rockies only played six games against teams that were below .500, and they lost every single one. They were swept by the Phillies and the Brewers, two teams that are farther behind the Rockies in the rebuilding window. This is a mentality thing and it falls on the team’s management. It’s up to their coaches and team leaders to make sure the team is engages for all 162 games (or, at least, 154) and that’s just not happening. The Rockies can clearly play up to their competition (see Good Things, #1) but good teams take care of the teams below them. Or, at least, not get swept.
2. The bullpen
The biggest and most glaring problem on this team is the lack of quality bullpen options. There’s plenty of arms that Walt Weiss can throw out there, but very few that will give the team a quality inning or two. Boone Logan and Adam Ottavino have been the most effective relievers the Rockies have had, followed by (gulp) Jake McGee. The obvious weak spot in the lineup hasn’t been helped by the free agent additions (Jason Motte and Chad Qualls) or by the young arms in the organization.
3. Rookie relievers
Two rookie relievers, Carlos Estevez and Matt Carasiti, have struggled mightily in the month of August. Estevez has given up 10 runs in nine August innings while Carasiti has given up 14 earned runs in 9.2 innings. Estevez was good for the first half of the season and was great heading into this month until two bad nights derailed his season. After August 4, Estevez had a 3.66 ERA and looked really solid. For the rest of August Estevez struggled with his control, walking five batters in those eight innings and amassing a 11.25 ERA.
Carasiti is just overwhelmed by major league hitters. He has the stuff to be an effective major league reliever, but doesn’t quite have it down yet. His fastball has flattened out and isn’t showing the movement that made him so effective in Double-A Hartford, where he spent most of his year. It’ll be up to him and the coaching staff to find and fix the mechanical error that’s causing this to happen.
4. Gerardo Parra
Sorry, guys. Parra is just bad. There’s very little that you can say or that he can do to prove that fact wrong. His .241/.286/.316 slash line just screams effective first baseman and is probably why they’re trying him out at the position. In reality, first base is the biggest hole in the Rockies lineup, especially while Reynolds was out of the lineup, so stopgaps like Parra and Daniel Descalso were filling that void until the Rockies front office can find a better solution. Reynolds has been solid, but there has to be a better option, someone who is ready to fill the power void and played there in his youth and hits left-handed and has the nickname of CarGo...
5. Jon Gray
Gray set a new career innings number two starts ago, so anything from here is relatively new territory for him. There’s been some good from Gray over the month of August; a 26.2 strikeout percentage is really good, 1.32 groundball-flyball ratio is even better, and a 3.22 FIP shows just how effective he’s been despite a 6.21 ERA over the course of that month. The problem has been his efficiency.
On average, Gray has needed 20.72 pitches to get through an inning. Scott Oberg, Estevez, Carasiti and Christian Bergman are the only other pitchers who needed over twenty, on average, to get through an inning. He registered his lowest strikeout-walk ratio of the season at 2.57 despite such great strikeout numbers. It hasn’t been a huge problem for Gray, but as we head into uncharted innings territory, his efficiency will be a telling piece of how well he’s holding up.