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The NL West is firmly in play for the Rockies

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Rockies news and links for May 22, 2018

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Are the Rockies losing a stars race in the NL West while Nolan Arenado is marginalized? | The Athletic ($)
Despite having the distinction of worst wRC+ in all of baseball, the Colorado Rockies are firmly in position to attain first place in the National League West (as of this Monday night writing). This is partially thanks to the Rox having one of the best pitching staffs in the game, and partially thanks to the play of the rest of the teams in the division.

The Los Angeles Dodgers sit at a record of 20-26 as of Monday, which ranks fourth in the NL West. This was the team that was widely considered to be the favorite to win the division. The Arizona Diamondbacks, meanwhile, got off to a scalding start to the year. On May 1, the Snakes were 21-8, with a six-game lead in the division. This was followed by a 4-14 stretch, that led the D-Backs to enter today’s action at 25-22. Additionally, the San Francisco Giants have played .500 ball and the San Diego Padres have been the San Diego Padres. Thus, the Rockies have largely been their own worst enemy en route to taking the top spot in the NL West. The Diamondbacks’ series with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Rockies’ series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers may end up being key moments in the season.

Colorado Rockies are missing chances to take command in NL West | The Denver Post ($)
With the way the Diamondbacks have played, the Rockies had multiple opportunities to claim first place in the division in their weekend series with the Giants, but were unable to do so. A four-game series split is solid, especially at AT&T Park, but the reasons for the Rockies’ losses were obvious, from the struggling offense of veterans Ian Desmond, Carlos Gonzalez, and Chris Iannetta to clunker outings from key relievers Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee.

Colorado Rockies: 3 things that stood out in the San Francisco series | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry has three takeaways from the Rockies’ recent series with the Giants. They are Nolan Arenado’s ownage of San Francisco, the team’s problems at second base, and the struggles of McGee. After going 9-for-18 at AT&T Park, Arenado was hitting .331 entering Monday’s game. Offensive exploits have not abounded at the keystone, with DJ LeMahieu on the 10-Day Disabled List. Daniel Castro and Pat Valaika have frankly not done a commendable job in his absence.

Rockies leaning on younger players for bench | Rockies.com
Youngsters Valaika and Noel Cuevas are currently entrusted with the main pinch-hitting duties for the Rockies, a sort of a rarity for a National League club, where veterans are usually given such a role. To begin the year, Ryan McMahon and Mike Tauchman (who have both since been optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque) were thrusted into a bench role, which Manager Bud Black admits “might not have suited them well.”

Colorado Rockies: A look at Nolan Arenado’s month of May | Rox Pile
While much of the Rockies’ offense has scuffled to begin the year, Arenado has remained very consistent, and has looked particularly apt with the bat in the month of May. In the calendar’s fifth month, Arenado has slashed .357/.423/.614 with four home runs.

Interestingly, as Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling points out, Nolan’s Defensive Runs Saved at third base sits at 0 for the season. In every single season in which he has played, Arenado has recorded at least 16 DRS.

Around Baseball

MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week | MLB.com
For the second week in a row, outfielder Vince Fernandez (PuRP No. 28) has hit his way onto MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Week list. Fernandez may find himself with a promotion to Double-A in short order if he continues to slash .324/.433/.596 for the Class-A Advanced Lancaster JetHawks.

MLB extends Roberto Osuna’s administrative leave again | NBC Sports
Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna made his Major League debut at the age of 20 and has had unheralded success for someone of his age. This success and Osuna’s openness to talk about his struggles with anxiety had made him a favorite player of mine, so consider this a “Milkshake Duck” scenario. Osuna has been placed on extended administrative leave after being charged with assaulting a woman on an off day in Toronto.

Ryan Cook hasn’t been around long enough to save the Mariners bullpen, but could he? | The Athletic ($)
All-Star reliever Ryan Cook, who pitched for the Oakland Athletics from 2012-2014 is back in the big leagues with the Seattle Mariners, after dealing with one injury after another for the past few years. From 2012-2013, Cook ranked 10th among MLB relievers in fWAR, and he will hope to rediscover some of the magic with the M’s.