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Rockies hitters on the rise are elevating hopes for contention in 2019

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Rockies news and links for Sunday, April 21, 2019

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Charlie Blackmon’s dramatic walk-off could be the exact boost the Rockies need to permanently escape early-season slump | Denver Post ($)

It was only a matter of time, some will say, before Charlie Blackmon found his groove again. And he did so in spectacular fashion on Friday night, breaking out of a season-long slump by hitting a two-run walk-off home run against the Phillies. For Chuck, though, Kyle Newman writes, it was just another day at the plate—grinding, battling, and in his own words, “just one swing and I’m not going to make too much of it.”

As modest as he may be, it was another huge hit that single-handedly kept a win-streak alive, which has been vital in maintaining hope for a viable, competitive season. Bud Black said it could “portend good things to come,” and Chuck didn’t waste time proving him right. Following his big walk-off, Blackmon led off yesterday’s game with his second bomb of the year, went 4-for-5, and hit a towering triple to right-center to knock in another run.

He’s just one man, but if Chuck can keep this up and hit like he has the past couple seasons, the Rockies will have yet another big reason to believe a Postseason run is still possible.

Desmond sees ground-ball percentage decrease | MLB.com

Speaking of trending in the right direction, Ian Desmond has been, well, not hitting the ball on the ground so much. It is well-known that Desmond has led all of baseball in ground-ball percentage the past two years—63.2% in ‘17 and 61.6% in ‘18—but this year, so far, he has reduced that number to 38.3%. It’s a small sample size, but it’s still a positive trend, and as Thomas Harding points out, Ian is even hitting .250 with a .792 OPS over his last six games.

It’s pretty simple. If Desmond can keep hitting the ball in the air, he can still be a factor for this ballclub. There’s reason to believe it can be true, too, if you’re into that “hope” stuff, as Harding offers three details that have Desmond confident in his upward trending bat.

BSN Exclusive: The adjustment that is turning David Dahl into an elite hitter | BSN Denver ($)

David Dahl—the wunderkind, the enigma, the future—is finding consistent success in the big leagues. It has not been easy, writes Drew Creasman, as David has battled wily veterans and tiresome injuries to lock up a starting role with the Rockies. Now that he finally has left-field to himself, how has he maintained his blistering finish to 2018 and carried it into this season? Easy, just by choking up on the bat.

David explains to Creasman that the oldest adjustment the game knows has been a big part of his hot start. In limited time due to—get this—injury, Dahl entered Saturday slashing .349/.396/.651 over twelve games, with two home runs, a triple, and five doubles. He still has to work on his discipline at the plate (already a 4-to-1 K/BB ratio following yesterday’s game), but if that number evens out and he stays healthy, Dahl will certainly find himself in All-Star discussions for years to come.

Colorado Rockies injury update: Daniel Murphy nearing return? | Rox Pile

Kevin Henry has an update on the Daniel Murphy injury situation and it sounds like it is full steam ahead for the Rockies big offseason acquisition to return to the lineup. Murphy has gone as far as taking batting and fielding practice recently, and on Friday traveled to Albuquerque to join the Isotopes for a rehab assignment to begin this weekend. He went 1-for-5 yesterday and will continue to work towards returning to the big leagues, but Bud Black says there is still no timetable—only that Murphy is healing and feeling better.

‘I’m not backing off.’ The pitch that put Kyle Freeland atop the Rockies’ rotation is fearless | The Athletic ($)

In this wonderful article, Nick Groke discusses Kyle Freeland’s fearless rise to major league notoriety and the simple—but effective—pitch that got him there. The anchor to Kyle’s success has been his fastball, and in particular his use of it on the inner-half of the plate against right-handed hitters. It’s a dangerous place to live, but it has worked for Kyle. It’s almost as though hitters can’t believe he would dare work there, but he won’t back down.

Groke includes GIFs in his article of Freeland busting righties with his fastball—well worth the read for those—and despite the pitch sitting at a modest 93 mph, he knows how to use it more effectively than many flamethrowers. Kyle says he is still learning the game and how to be better, and if that’s the case, hitters better beware of the young ace from Colorado.

On the farm

On Saturday, no. 13 PuRP Terrin Vavra was terrin it up at the plate when he went 4-for-4 with his 6th stolen base. Vavra is now slashing .365/.485/.538 this young season and his impressive start will likely have him on the shortlist to join Lancaster by year’s end.

Colton Welker (no. 3 PuRP) also had a big day by hitting two home runs and a double, collecting four RBI and raising his slashline to .286/.344/.482. Welker has been slower to get going this season, but his impressive three XBH outing is a great sign that he’s getting hot.

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 12, Tacoma Rainiers 4 | MiLB.com

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 12, New Hampshire Fisher Cats 4 | MiLB.com

High-A: Visalia Rawhide 7, Lancaster JetHawks 3 | MiLB.com

Low-A: Asheville Tourists 8, West Virginia Power 5 | MiLB.com