It feels like forever ago that the Rockies were in first place, on top of their division following a May that saw the Diamondbacks go 8-19—including a stretch in which they lost 12 of 13. In reality, it was only a month ago, on June 6th, that the Rockies were in first place, but a June swoon of 10-16 baseball dropped them to as low as fourth in the NL West and had many fans and analysts wondering if it was time to give up hope for a Rocktober in 2018.
On June 28th, Nolan Arenado told us he’s tired of losing. In the nine games since his remarks, the Rockies have gone 8-1, pulled themselves three games over .500, and are just 3.5 games out of first place. Entering Saturday, their starting rotation had an ERA of 1.45 in the month of July and have dominated their adversaries to the tune of a .142/.195/.217 slash line. This doesn’t even include the two gems that Tyler Anderson and Germán Márquez pitched on June 29th and 30th in which they gave up a combined one run in 16 innings.
The Rockies are in a good place offensively and their pitching staff has been tough as nails. In their last nine games, they’ve held opponents to two runs or less seven times and scored four or more runs six times. As we all know, scoring more runs than your opponent is a big key to success in baseball, and the Rockies are on a roll in the month of July. Is this the big turnaround we’ve been waiting for, and will this team be a playoff contender in the second-half of the season following the All-Star break?
In Episode 140 of the Purple Dinosaur Podcast, our good friends Tyler Maun and Anthony Masterson discuss the Rockies’ winning ways and what has been the keys to success for this team lately (hint: good pitching and Nolan’s spark). They also touch on Jon Gray’s recent demotion to the Isotopes, the current series against the American League Rockies, and Brendan Rodgers making another appearance in the Futures Game—P.S. is it time for Brendan to be promoted to Triple-A? They say yes, and much much more.
It would also be remiss of me to not bring up a wonderful “Ask PDP” question they received for this episode: Would you rather see the Rockies miss the playoffs every year ‘til the day you die and then win the World series the next year, or throw BP to the Rockies for a full year without an L-screen and no glove?
In this post, Justin Michael at Mile High Sports takes a closer look at the Rockies’ success playing on the road (they now own a 28-21 record away from Coors Field so far this season) and how their pitching has played a major role in those victories. As a whole, the starting rotation owns a 3.97 ERA away from home, and Germán Márquez in particular has flourished on the road this year—he owns a 2.62 ERA in nine appearances.
We’ve focused on the success of this young pitching staff recently, and it’s time to give the offense some love. Yes, Kyle Freeland pitched five strong innings yesterday, but he wasn’t at his best in giving up five hits (including a solo home run) and four walks on 98 pitches—only 56 of which were strikes. Yes, it was a solid performance, but the hero of the day was Noel Cuevas who hit a bomb off arguably one of the best pitchers in the game today:
That was loud, and quite a devastating bat toss. It’s great to see Noel find some success in a tough spot-start. He’s had a decent debut at the major league level coming off the bench and starting against lefties, and is now slashing .267/.296/.367 in 120 at-bats this year. As a righty in a sea of lefty outfielders, Cuevas is making an impact and proving he belongs on the active roster—even when David Dahl returns (sorry, Raimel).
Triple-T, as he might be known now (or maybe Tony Triples, according to Chad Bettis), was the big hero on Friday when the Rockies defeated the Mariners 7-1 —and it may go down in history as “the Tony Wolters Game.” Tony hit two triples and picked up three RBI, but more importantly had two beautiful defensive gems throwing out speedster Dee Gordon on the basepaths and squashing any hopes of a Mariners comeback.
Tony has had a rough year at the plate, slashing .153/.264/.252 in 42 games, but his defensive prowess and pitch-framing expertise continue to earn him a spot on the active roster. In fact, Tony leads all catchers in Defensive Runs Saved so far this year. That seems to be enough to keep him in the lineup when Iannetta or Murphy (now on paternity leave) need a rest. Hopefully, Friday’s is the type of game that busts slumps, and Tony will keep impacting games in a positive manner moving forward—with both his arm and his bat.
On Saturday, the Rockies took the field without Trevor Story starting the game at shortstop for the first time since August 5, 2017, ending his impressive games-played streak at 139. Story was hit by a pitch in the 7th inning of Friday’s 5-1 victory over the Mariners, and ended up with a swollen and painful foot (though he finished the game). With the Rockies ready to contend for a playoff spot once again, Bud Black and Trevor both decided to play it safe and let the young star rest on Saturday.
It’s the smart play for sure, as Story’s feet and speed have developed into an incredible asset for the Rockies. He’s slashing .282/.347/.522 with a .240 ISO, sure, but Trevor is also an elite baserunner according to StatCast—they rank him 8th in the majors on the Sprint Speed Leaderboard with an average top sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second—and as Thomas Harding notes:
Story was elite twice in Friday night’s game against the Mariners. In the third, he reached 30.5 feet per second to beat out a potential double-play relay. In the ninth -- two innings after he was hit -- he reached 31 feet per second while beating out a ground ball.
You never want one of your best players to miss time with an injury, but it sounds like Trevor will be ready to play again today against the Mariners, and it’s a good idea to make sure a little pain and swelling doesn’t turn into anything worse for our potential All-Star shortstop.