Having just passed the mid-way point of the season, the Rockies are hovering around .500 and have been playing mediocre baseball for what feels like weeks. They’re not terrible and they’re not great—just stuck in the middle. And as the trade deadline approaches, an important question remains: will the Rockies be buyers or sellers in 2018?
Jeff Bridich is known for keeping the wheeling and dealing of the Rockies front office close to the vest and out of the public’s watchful eye and attentive ears, but yesterday he admitted, “Nobody is going to feel sorry for us and nobody will come to our rescue. We have to do it ourselves.” If you ask me, it sounds like the Rockies won’t exactly be shopping for a sparkly, new addition to the team this July.
But maybe—just maybe—they don’t need to. As DJ LeMahieu mentions in Groke’s article, the Rockies have high expectations for themselves, and they might be turning the corner. They are 6-4 over their last 10 games and have won three in a row against division rivals, including back-to-back pitching gems from Germán Márquez and Tyler Anderson.
The NL West—which saw the D-backs go 8-19 in May before putting on their “big-boy pants” (according to Bridich) and go 19-8 in June—is wide open, and the Rockies still have a chance to catch fire. They’re only 6.5 games behind in the West and 4 back of a wildcard spot with 79 games left to play. Does this roster have what it takes to make a run, or has time run out on the hope of a successful season in 2018?
Nolan Arenado’s blunt words to the media on Thursday have been well chronicled over the past few days. On Friday he clarified that he wasn’t calling anyone out, especially the front office, but it was too late. Haters and trolls had a field day, exclaiming Nolan would never sign an extension with the Rockies—that he would turn out just like Troy Tulowitzki to the Colorado fan base.
Of course, there was no true rift in the Rockies clubhouse, and many teammates and organization members—including Carlos González, Jeff Bridich, and Bud Black—agreed with Nolan and appreciated his leadership and passion. Luckily, this is a team of professionals who are all tired of losing baseball games and understand the urgency of Nolan’s words.
On Friday night, Nolan powered the Rockies to victory behind Tyler Anderson’s gem when he hit his 20th home run of the season—tied for the NL lead with superstar Bryce Harper.
Nolan has hit seven home runs in his last eleven games, and in addition to leading the NL in HR, he is 4th in RBI and tied for 6th in AVG. While these traditional stats don’t paint a very meaningful picture as far as a truly successful season, the combination of the three hold a lot of historical value—could we soon be discussing the possibility of a legitimate Triple Crown season for Arenado?
The Rockies are leading the NL in a peculiar statistical category—fewest number of starting pitchers used (5)—which makes this ranking exercise done by Rox Pile that much easier.
At the mid-way point of the season, there has been one pitcher in the rotation who has truly stood out as number one, and all you Kyle Freeland Guys will be happy to see the hometown hero listed there. Kyle currently owns a 143 ERA+, 8th best in the NL, and has silenced the Coors critics by actually pitching better at home than he has on the road—2.95 ERA at home vs. a 3.50 ERA away from Colorado.
After Kyle, I believe the rankings of the other four rotation members gets a little tricky. Rox Pile did their best, but after last nights 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, and 9 K gem of a performance, Germán Márquez might have to have a word with them concerning his spot on their list...
In a bombshell of news dropped yesterday, we learned Jon Gray would be optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque and replaced on the roster by Raimel Tapia in order to, according to Bud Black, “work on some things, not so much mechanically but mentally, and to realize the inconsistencies that have been happening this season, that we’ve gotta try to get those straightened out.”
It’s true, Jon has had his share of struggles this season. He’ll head for Albuquerque with a 5.77 ERA, a 124 park and league adjusted ERA-, 1.49 WHIP, .283 BAA, and 63.1 LOB%. None of that is good, but to make it even more clear as mud, Jon also owns a 11.64 K/9, 4.10 K/BB, 28.9 K%, and 3.07 FIP—all career bests at the major league level. Then there’s this:
Not that xFIP is everything, but only five starters in baseball had a better xFIP than Jon Gray— Beyond the Box Score (@BtBScore) June 30, 2018
Corey Kluber https://t.co/M8YAZTMIBq
There’s no way around it, Jon Gray’s 2018 season is something of an enigma. Regardless, we can all hope whatever is ailing Jon gets worked out in is time with the ‘Topes and he’s back in the Rockies rotation in the near future. Say it with me now: Awoooooooooo!
Speaking of Jon, Ron Wolschleger at Beyond the Box Score took a closer look at the Gray Wolf’s strange season and how he has found himself in such troubled waters this year. As you’ll see in the article, the infamously hitter-friendly ballpark that Jon calls home is not to blame—his home/road splits are nearly identical. No, it’s not the location he’s pitching in but the location of the pitch he most often uses that is causing Jon so much trouble—and yes, it’s his fastball. According to Ron:
He uses it around 51 percent of the time but it has a .428 wOBA against it. He has given up seven of the 11 (63.6%) total home runs off the fastball, three of the four triples, 12 out of the 22 (54.5%) doubles, and 37 of the 71 (52.1%) singles he’s allowed. So while, yes, his fastball is used 50 percent of the time, it’s allowing far more than 50 percent of the hits... To sum it up, the results off his fastball are far worse than should be expected.
Well that’s not good. But there is hope! Ron goes on to explain why the fastball has failed Jon this year, and it appears to very much be a mechanical issue that can be fixed. There is work to be done, but like many of us, Ron is confident that Jon Gray can return to his previous ace-like form—if not even better.