Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you know the Rockies bullpen has been struggling. Entering this weekend’s series with the Rangers, the Rockies had lost 10 of the past 13 games and had a bullpen ERA of 8.29 during that span. The pen has offered very little relief, as it were, and then there’s this gem:
Today marked the 20th time in 70 games this season that the #Rockies lost when holding a lead at some point the game -- the worst mark in the National League and the third-worst mark in the majors.— Patrick Saunders (@psaundersdp) June 16, 2018
Yes, the Rockies have lost 36 games so far and had a lead in over half their defeats. That’s what the experts tend to consider “not good”. According to Bud Black, there may be hope in the fact that key bullpen arms—such as Chris Rusin and Bryan Shaw—are making some mechanical adjustments to improve their results on the mound.
That’s all well and good to hear, but positive outcomes are still not consistent. Shaw did get three outs on Saturday, including a strikeout, without giving up a hit or walk, but one of the outs was a run-scoring sac fly. And after pitching 1.1 clean innings on Friday, Harrison Musgrave was the bullpen pariah yesterday when he entered a tie-game in the 8th and allowed three runs on two hits and a walk without recording a single out.
Black says it will “take time” for positive results to begin showing up from the mechanical adjustments their relief pitchers are making, and that there is a “mental shift” taking place in the bullpen, too. However, the current bullpen construction—for the most part—is hurting this team. And frankly, there needs to be more urgency in fixing this putrid bullpen if the Rockies hope to remain relevant in the NL West this season.
Let’s take this moment to just appreciate the game Kyle Freeland pitched. It was the ninth quality start of the season for Kyle, which leads the Rockies, and lowered his ERA to a very good 3.59 and his FIP to 3.88. Kyle held the Rangers scoreless through six innings before hitting a bump in the road in the 7th. He struck out three, walked one, and gave up eight hits in the no-decision.
The bullpen continued to shift the momentum towards Texas by giving up three more runs in the 8th inning on their way to the 36th loss of the year. The Rockies fell to third place in the division—tied with San Francisco—and are now only 1.5 games out of last place.
But at least we got to see this Gold Glove caliber play from #ThatsMyDJ:
Maggie O’Hara has played softball since she was five years old. As a kid, her dad often snuck her out of school to catch Cubs games at Wrigley Field. When she went to the library, she would leave with reading material such as Baseball Prospectus. In college, she played softball for the University of Chicago. So to say baseball has been a part of her life—well, it would be a major understatement.
O’Hara—just 23 years of age—is now employed by the Detroit Tigers and is the only woman on the 14-person analytics team. She is also one of 22 recipients of MLB’s inaugural Diversity Fellowship, a program meant to “recruit talented professionals of diverse backgrounds,” and as a former college athlete, has a “player’s sensibilities” to refine her analytical approach to improving the Tigers’ approach to the game of baseball.
According to the author, Max Bultman, “a scan of publicly available front-office directories appears to turn up fewer than 20 women listed as full-time staffers in team baseball analytics departments,” an unfortunate reality. Maggie O’Hara may be an entry-level staffer, but she is breaking down doors and striving to make it easier for women like her to find a place in baseball. As a father of a 2 year old daughter, this is the hero we need.
With the Midsummer Classic and trade deadline approaching, the Rockies are hovering around .500 and 5.5 games behind the first place Arizona Diamondbacks. They’re also not trending upwards right now, having lost 11 of their last 15 games, and find themselves only 1.5 games out of last place in the NL West. But with 92 games left, there should be plenty of time to turn things around.
So should the Rockies be buyers or sellers as the trade deadline approaches this year, or maybe stand pat and let it all play out? Olivia Greene at Rox Pile suggests Jeff Bridich should pursue a veteran starting pitcher and—of course—a first-baseman to help their odds of making the postseason, and offers eight interesting names (including former Rox Mark Reynolds and Jonathan Lucroy) to target and keep in mind. What do you all think?
For the first time since April 12th, Ian Desmond returned to the locker room after a long day of playing baseball with a batting average above .200. Are the clouds parting? Is there music in the air? Did an angel get its wings? No, but Ian is now slashing .203/.269/.424 in a very awful and oddly productive season for the Rockies.
Maybe there will be a metaphorical weight lifted off his shoulders and he can maintain the success he’s had over the past couple weeks for the rest of the year. In the month of June, for instance, he’s slashing .238/.360/.595 with five home runs in 42 at-bats. On the season, Ian has 14 home runs in 48 total hits—an amazing twenty-nine percent of his hits have been dingers.
That’s production I can get behind. The question now is if this streak is just a blip on the radar, or maybe the realization of a player Jeff Bridich and Co. always thought he could be? Only time will tell. Now stay tuned for more Ian Desmond discourse as 2018 marches on!