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Rockies’ trade deadline acquisitions paying off

It has yet to fully manifest itself in terms of wins, but the acquisitions of Pat Neshek and Jonathan Lucroy look good so far

Since acquiring Pat Neshek on July 26, the Colorado Rockies are just 11-13. They’ve stumbled through a fairly easy part of their schedule, largely because of an offense that—outside of a couple of MVP candidates and a handful of others—has failed to get going.

It could be argued that the team didn’t do enough at the deadline to improve its chances. The Rockies sorely lack consistent corner outfield production and depth issues in the bullpen have been brought to light with the recent meltdowns from closer Greg Holland.

The two players the Rockies did acquire at the deadline only enhance the feeling that more could have been done, but not in the way one might think. Neshek and Jonathan Lucroy, to this point, have proven to be strong acquisitions, leaving one to wonder whether Colorado general manager Jeff Bridich could’ve used his magic touch to add a couple more players to that category.

At any rate, the Rockies’ 24-game stretch can’t be blamed on the new guys. Neshek, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a prospect package led by top-20 PuRP Jose Gomez, has yet to walk a batter in 13 appearances while racking up 11 strikeouts. Neshek has given up a few more hits (12 in 9 13 innings) than he’d like, but his FIP sits at just 2.17—well below his 3.86 ERA—and the .379 BABIP he’s allowed is likely to go down, as evidenced by hitters’ well-below-average line drive and hard-hit rates against him.

Lucroy, a two-time All Star picked up by the Rockies on July 30 for a player to be named later who turned out to be top-15 PuRP Pedro Gonzalez, has given a much-needed boost to the offensive black hole that was the catching position. Prior to Lucroy’s arrival, Rockies backstops were quite easily the worst in the National League at the plate, posting a wRC+ in the low 40s. In 65 plate appearances, Lucroy has been markedly better, producing a 116 wRC+ on the back of a .294/.431/.431 batting line and more walks (13) than strikeouts (nine).

Defensively, though, Lucroy is still lagging behind, which maybe helps paint the picture of part of the Rockies’ struggles since his acquisition. He’s in the negative in terms of Defensive Runs Saved since joining the Rox and has been exactly as poor of a framer with Colorado as he was with Texas, according to Baseball Prospectus’ pitch framing metrics. However, since none of the other catchers on staff were giving the Rockies a positive contribution in that area either, it’s likely that Lucroy’s offense alone has been a net gain for the team; in fact his 0.5 fWAR, which far exceeds the -0.7 fWAR put up by the rest of the group, all but confirms that assessment.

Sitting at 69-58 and 3 12 games in front of the Milwaukee Brewers for the second NL Wild Card spot, the Rockies are in good shape—especially when looking at FanGraphs’ playoff odds, which currently have Colorado at 75 percent—to reach the postseason. Though perhaps more could have been done to give the Rockies the best chance of winning the Wild Card game and competing in the Division Series, the additions of Neshek and Lucroy have, to this point, ensured a larger August free fall hasn’t taken place.