With their loss to the Diamondbacks last night, the Rockies find themselves hovering in mediocrity and falling fast. Their record is now at .500 for the first time since April 30th, and they’ve lost seven of their last nine games with six straight defeats at home.
At the same time, their offense is finally starting to heat up. They’ve recorded eight or more hits in 14 straight games and scored at least four runs each game in that stretch. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, but the bullpen has been snatching defeat from the jaws of victory — last night’s debacle was the 8th in the past twelve losses the Rockies had a lead going into the 6th inning or later.
Rockies’ pitching and hitting have both been good this year, but it feels like it’s never at the same time. The Rockies were in 1st place as recently as Wednesday, and now they’re a 1⁄2 game away from being in 4th place and the only NL West team to have a losing record over their past ten games. It’s only June, of course, and the division is still up for grabs, but the Rockies need to figure out how to escape this position of mediocrity before the D-backs or Dodgers run away with the title.
Speaking of “it’s only June,” MLB.com takes a look here at the six most likely candidates to win the Triple Crown “in the near future.” I wouldn’t be mentioning it if a Rockies player wasn’t included, of course, and you guessed it — it’s Nolan Arenado who drops in at number 4.
Nolan has achieved the “Double Crown” (leading the league in home runs and RBI) in ‘15 and ‘16, and seems primed to elevate his batting average to a Triple Crown level this year. The problem (in this context...) is his career high walk rate (13.5% — four or more points higher than any other season) is reducing the amount of his RBI and HR opportunities.
I appreciate the author of this article points out the Triple Crown “is a matter of custom more than logic.” While there is no depth or true evaluation of how valuable a player is due to their ability to achieve it, we still treasure the Triple Crown for its rarity. In the history of Major League Baseball, only 15 players have attained the honor — could Arenado become the next great ballplayer to join the exclusive club?
The South Atlantic League All-Stars were announced today, and the Rockies’ Low-A affiliate Asheville Tourists had three players selected to represent their league. Bret Boswell and Casey Golden made the cut and most notably will be joined by first-baseman — and no. 29 PuRP — Chad Spanberger.
Chad is slashing .330/.368/.628 for the Tourists with a strong .282 ISO, is second in the SAL in home runs (15), and leads the league in RBI with 48. He also seems to have found his legs in Asheville. In 56 games, Chad has 13 stolen bases after only nabbing two last year and receiving a speed score of 30 from Baseball Census in January, who also said he’s, “far from a good runner and lacks overall athleticism, with heavy, plodding feet and slow first step. Unlikely to ever become an average runner.” Hope they like the taste of crow!
The short answer to this question posed by Rox Pile is: how could it not...? More specifically, Jeff was called up yesterday to replace Mike Dunn, who went on the 10-day DL with a rhomboid strain. Dunn has struggled this season, like many others in the Rockies bullpen, to the tune of a 196 ERA-, 5.61 FIP, and 0.71 K/BB ratio. In his last three appearances, Dunn has recorded one out while giving up four hits, four walks, and six runs. Ouch.
Again, it’s going to be very hard to do much worse than that in the short and long-term. Jeff has had a mix-bag of results at Triple-A Albuquerque this season, but he’s definitely had the strikeout working to his advantage. In 50.1 IP, he K’d 61 batters — a 10.91 K/9 and 28.5 K% — and pitched to a respectable 4.17 FIP.
On Saturday night, in his first major league action of 2018, Jeff pitched 2.2 innings of relief, gave up one run on two hits and a walk, and struck out two batters. It’s a small sample size, but it’s still a notable appearance for its ability to keep the Rockies’ lead safe at the time — a welcome change that has eluded this bullpen in the recent weeks.
Lastly, Rox Pile takes a look at a handful of potential trade targets for the Rockies who come from the AL Central and could help this struggling bullpen. There are some intriguing names — like Nate Jones from Detroit or Fernando Rodney from Minnesota — but the most exciting target mentioned is Kelvin Herrera from Kansas City.
This two-time All-Star owns a career 3.13 FIP (only 1.97 in 2018) and 8.93 K/9, with a 8.79 WPA and 0.7 clutch score — excellent and above-average by Fangraphs’ standards. There’s no doubt this fireballer would be an excellent addition to the Rockies’ bullpen if they hope to stay competitive in the NL West. It’s only a question of “will they?” or “why wouldn’t they?” as our relief pitchers continue to struggle and appear to be dropping like flies onto the DL.