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Keys to the Colorado Rockies’ second half

Rockies news and links for Sunday, July 16th, 2017.

Saunders: Slumping Rockies face tough questions as second half begins | Denver Post

Patrick Saunders tallies up the good and the bad of the Colorado Rockies first half and lists quite a few unknowns that will be the key to having a successful second half of the season. I think at times, everyone forgets how young this Rockies team is. After Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies starter with the most major league experience is Jon Gray. The Rockies fanbase seems eager to move past Trevor Story, though he’s only had about a season’s worth of at bats so far. Yeah, the team has holes, but I don’t think a bandaid like a Zack Cozart makes much of a difference, and I think it’s way way too early to start jumping ship on some of the rookies.

Before the season, many Rockies fans thought the Rockies were a .500 team, and quite a few of the projection systems had them a notch below that. I think this team has shown it is much better, but the same flaws that are there now were still around when the Rockies were playing well. If you’d told me that by the end of April, the Rockies would have just a .500 record after losing Jon Gray, David Dahl, Ian Desmond and Tom Murphy, I’d be happy. The Rockies ended up better than that and have the talent to do it again.

Black: LeMahieu 'shows up' in key moments |

With how much Charlie Blackmon has gotten on base this year, there better be a lot of moments where DJ LeMahieu came through. Last year LeMahieu had an offensive breakthrough, though curiously, his defense got a bit worse. This year, his powerless bat has returned as has the good defense. He’s also getting on base at a fairly decent rate, which was a problem earlier in his career in the brief opportunities he had to hit in the two hole.

The Rockies lineup right now is pretty top heavy, with a lot of strikeouts and a lack of contact and walks between Mark Reynolds in the cleanup slot and Tony Wolters in the eighth slot. It was nice seeing Blackmon bat third when Nolan Arenado was given a day off recently, and given Carlos Gonzalez’s current failings, it might be worth moving his power bat to the cleanup slot to replace Gonzalez.

Outfield prospect Noel Cuevas looks like a completely different player this year | Baseball Census

Bobby DeMuro has been pleasantly surprised by Cuevas’s performance so far with the Albuquerque Isotopes, raising his slash stats from .296/.331/.414 in 2016 to .319/.350/.502. By those rates, it looks like he added a dash of batting average and a touch of power. They aren’t really jaw-dropping numbers for a place like Albuquerque, but as DeMuro writes, it could play as a fourth outfielder on a major league bench. The challenge with the Rockies, though, is that with all the large contracts that exist in the major league outfield, there’s not much in the way of opportunity to give guys like him or Mike Tauchman a chance.

Kenley Jansen is too busy helping the Dodgers win to get saves | FiveThirtyEight

While the article focuses mostly on Jansen, there are some comments about Greg Holland. Nate Silver uses the goose egg metric he came up with to note that while Holland leads the league in saves, he really hasn’t come into the game in a lot of high leverage situations. Overall, he’s come into the game just once when it was a tie game, and only four times with runners on base.

There was some belief before the season that manager Bud Black might be a bit more sabermetricy in terms of his bullpen usage, but so far he hasn’t been. Considering how unstable the Rockies bullpen had been the last half a decade, there’s probably some team chemistry type value to having defined roles and letting the rest of the team see the Rockies pitchers succeed in those roles. So, perhaps it’s not a bad thing he’s going by the book for now.