The Rockies had a painfully rough June, but they are in position to do some great things at the end of this season. Pitching has been a huge part of that, coming in at the tough moments as the offense struggled. Patrick Saunders at the Denver Post argues that Kyle Freeland would be the one he would trust to start an important game off right. Jon Gray is of course a favorite, despite his ugly start to the 2018 season. He comes out and plays his game, and watching his comeback has been a glorious experience. The Rockies have had some great stories this year, including Trevor Story’s triumphant return from a sophomore slump, and Carlos Gonzalez’s re-emergence as a Denver staple. But none can beat the story of Denver boy Kyle Freeland, playing strong and adjusting within the game to help get a win for the Rockies.
This morning, before anything had been announced regarding trades, Buster Olney at ESPN speculated that Daniel Murphy could be a good fit for the Rockies. Yes, Murphy is a second baseman, and we’ve currently got that locked in with DJ LeMahieu, but Murphy could have potentially fill the role of first baseman. Ian Desmond has had an up and down year, and is back in a little bit of a down swing right now. The Chicago Cubs have now acquired Murphy, but the question still stands, and has for most of the 2018 season, whether or not Desmond is the best option at first base for the Rockies.
The Rockies have been playing some impressive baseball at a time when it really matters that they do. They’re 30-16 against teams over .500, and 20-7 at Coors Field since June 18. They still have some work to do on their offensive performance, as Nolan Arenado has pointed out. They’ve played well, but they still are missing those strong at-bats that they have shown they’re capable of. Pitching has been markedly better than early in the season, with the starters finally getting it all together. The rest of the Rockies’ schedule will still be somewhat difficult, but Bud Black has faith in his squad. Ian Desmond has been emblematic of the team, struggling early on in the year before coming back strong and having a career season. They’re looking like a good team, and they just need to continue to play like they have been, at the level that they are capable of, in order to gain a top spot in the division.
The Rockies have been playing some great baseball in the last few weeks, but they have one problematic habit: giving up first-run home runs. Thomas Harding at MLB.com considers the possibility of having an opener to pitch the first inning then give way to someone who can play for several innings. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have attempted such a thing, and it has worked for them. This is an interesting proposition, but it is somewhat problematic. It limits the number of pitchers who can play later in the game, and the Rockies have managed to overcome this first-inning woes in many games. It’s also a bit risky to think that the starters would improve starting in the second inning versus the first. Is it the inning that matters, or the pitcher alone? These first-inning home runs are certainly an issue, but the Rockies aren’t necessarily going to make this huge kind of move to try to remedy it.