When imagining worst-case scenarios for the Rockies, Friday night just about hit the mark. In the 5th inning of a tie ballgame against the Dodgers, Ryan McMahon was inserted as a defensive replacement for the ailing Nolan Arenado. Turning an unconventional double-play in the 3rd inning, Nolan felt pain shoot through his arm after rocketing a side-arm throw to Ian Desmond at first base and couldn’t risk causing serious damage to his golden arm.
“Usually when I throw, I can let it fly. But it hurt too much,” Nolan told reporters after the game. As Nick Groke of The Athletic points out in his article, the Rockies’ All-Star third baseman is the one player the Rockies can’t afford to lose. Well, on Saturday he was out of the lineup, and Rockies fans were holding their breaths.
The Rockies bullpen has been in a tough stretch, with key free-agent signings Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee all struggling in particular. The offense hasn’t been much better. On Friday they won despite going 0-for-13 with RISP, but that’s a trend that cannot continue—Nolan Arenado (142 wRC+) will need to be healthy to keep this team afloat.
Gotta bump this from Jake Shapiro at Rox Pile if you missed it, but it’s as relevant as ever after Friday and Saturday’s huge wins over the Dodgers propelled by former top-tier prospect and impact rookie Ryan McMahon. Since his most recent promotion from Triple-A, Ryan is slashing a scorching .344/.485/.656 in 14 games and 32 at-bats. Most notably in this time, of course, was his walk-off home run from last night:
On Friday, Ryan hit the go-ahead home run that was eventually the game-winner, as well:
Even David Dahl is finding more success with more playing time, and started five straight games in the outfield for the Rockies since his recent promotion. In that time, he slashed a more modest .263/.364/.474 for a strong 112 wRC, a 37.5% hard-hit percentage, and .211 ISO. David and Ryan are both hitting the ball with authority, and the more opportunities Bud Black gives them to do so, the better off the Rockies will be—now and in the future.
Lost in the jubilation and frenzy of McMahon’s walk-off home run was discussion around yet another gem of a ballgame pitched by Kyle Freeland at Coors Field. Like Jordan Freemyer mentions in yesterday’s recap, Kyle gave up single runs in the first and second inning, but completely shut down the hot Dodgers offense afterwards.
Freeland finished with seven innings pitched and gave up six hits (only one after the second inning), two runs, two walks, and collected a career-high ten strikeouts. He now has a 3.02 ERA on the season, and lowered his home ERA at COORS to an eye-popping 2.22 in eleven starts. Kyle continues to be the anchor of this young rotation and shows no signs of slowing down. He should be in line to win over more BBWAA members as the year goes on and may garner a few Cy Young votes, too.
There’s hope on the horizon for Jake McGee if he can keep hurling the heat, according to Jake Shapiro at Rox Pile. As you’ll see in the article, Jake (McGee) has some seriously concerning splits for his fastball when it’s thrown at 94 mph or less, and he sees much more success when it is 95 mph or more. In fact:
When throwing it 95 mph or above, his xwOBA against is .280. When throwing it 94 mph or less, it’s .395. According to Fangraphs, that’s the difference between “awful” and “excellent” for a hitter.
So what’s the good news? Even though McGee’s average fastball speed is the lowest it’s been his whole career this season, it’s actually trending up now. Yes, he’s been pretty awful, but he’s only given up one earned run in his past four innings, he reached 98 mph in Friday’s win, and that’s something to inspire a little bit of hope moving forward.