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Rockies reliever Chris Rusin working to improve command

Rockies news and links for May 29, 2018

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Rockies reliever Chris Rusin’s continued struggles center around command, too little use of the changeup | The Denver Post ($)
Arguably, the best relief pitcher on the Colorado Rockies in 2017 was Chris Rusin. Manager Bud Black could use Rusin like a Swiss Army knife, as the former starter can go multiple innings, or come in to high-leverage late-inning situations. 2018 has been a different story. 21 innings are not enough of a sample to label a pitcher as “broken”, but it should be noted that Rusin has been the worst Rockies’ pitcher in terms of fWAR (-0.3) to begin the year. Rusin has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, but he excelled from 2016-2017 in limiting walks and home runs. Over the past two seasons, Rusin had only walked 2.2 batters per nine innings, while also yielding an impressive 0.7 home runs per nine. To begin 2018, Rusin is walking 4.3 per nine, and allowing 2.1 home runs per nine. This has resulted in an ERA of 7.29.

Black chalks the issues up to command, as the 31-year-old Rusin is retaining his typical velocity. Rusin adds that his changeup is not where he wants it to be, and acknowledges that this is perhaps the most he’s struggled in his entire career. On a positive note, Rusin says that he believes that his changeup is now where he wants it to be, and will look to get the chance to utilize it in a game soon.

Education of Kyle Freeland turning him into Rockies’ most valuable pitcher | The Denver Post ($)
Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post offers an excellent breakdown of the pitcher that Rockies starter Kyle Freeland has evolved into in 2018. Freeland struggled down the stretch in 2017, his rookie campaign, as Major League teams began to correctly guess what pitches he would be throwing. The sinker-happy Freeland has had success by increasing his secondary offerings to begin ’18.

Colorado Rockies: Is it OK to be disappointed after a series win? | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Aaron Hurt begs the great philosophical question of, “Is it OK to be disappointed after a series win?” The Rockies took 2 of 3 from the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, but it frankly didn’t seem like a typical first place team mowing down a last place club. Perhaps you find yourself asking the same question.

Rockies are struggling and Charlie Blackmon thinks he knows why | The Athletic ($)
Charlie Blackmon was very candid in his recent comments about the struggles of the Rockies’ offense. Blackmon came to the plate in a bases-loaded, no out situation in the bottom of the 9th inning in Saturday’s contest against the Reds. Blackmon grounded into a forceout, and David Dahl then lined into a double play to end the game. Blackmon puts much of the blame on himself for the season’s offensive output. It is accurate that the result of Blackmon’s at-bat on Saturday night was poor, but the overwhelming “sickliness” of the offense in 2018 has not been the fault of Chuck Nazty.

Colorado Rockies: Looking for hot hitters at Triple-A Albuquerque | Rox Pile
For the first time in a while, the Rockies did not enter action on Monday alone in last place in wRC+! At a mark of 77, the Arizona Diamondbacks are tied with the Rox for the 30th place ranking. Is there any help at Triple-A for the struggling offense on the big league club? Rox Pile’s Michael Parnell lists Mike Tauchman, Raimel Tapia, Tom Murphy, Josh Fuentes, and Garrett Hampson among the hot hitters on the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Carlos González shows that he can remedy what ails this anemic Rockies’ offense | Mile High Sports
On the other hand, TJ McBride of Mile High Sports argues that Carlos González could be the answer for the “anemic” offense. González is hitting above .300 over the past two weeks, and culminated his recent string of success with a 4-for-4 day at the dish on Sunday, with one hit being a mammoth home run into the third deck. The Rockies “need a significant spike in offensive production and González has the means to deliver,” McBride writes.

Around Baseball

Pirates’ David Freese and third base coach Joey Cora had to be separated after Monday’s loss | NBC Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates started off the season scalding hot and were in first place in the National League Central as recently as May 17, but things have gone south as of late. The team has dropped to fourth place in the division, and third baseman David Freese and third base coach Joey Cora got into an altercation after a 7-0 loss on Monday.