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Pat Valaika has fallen for the Rockies, but Charlie Blackmon is rising once again

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Rockies news and links for Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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Colorado Rockies: The troubling stats behind Pat Valaika’s struggles | Rox Pile

The Rockies found themselves in a bit of a conundrum on Monday after Tyler Anderson’s short outing led to Chad Bettis being used as long relief in the team’s come-from-behind victory. Chad was a primary candidate to start yesterday’s game in place of the injured Kyle Freeland, but instead the Rockies had to call up Jeff Hoffman for a spot start. To make room for him, the often criticized and supremely struggling Pat Valaika was optioned to Triple-A.

In this article, Jake Shapiro takes a deep dive into the reasons behind Valaika’s issues at the plate that have plagued him since last year. It’s no secret, but let’s just say “Patty Barrels” has been pretty much anything but what his nickname indicates. There is much more data in Jake’s piece behind Pat’s fall from bench hero to possibly the worst hitter in baseball, but whatever it was, the fall was immense. Let’s hope some time in the minors sets Patty right.

Ranking Major League Baseball’s Most Overrated Stars | Bleacher Report

Jacob Shafer at Bleacher Report is not looking to make any friends with this list, his most “overrated” stars in the game of baseball. Of course, these picks are entirely subjective, but he does use an objective starting point of MLB Network’s preseason Top 100 list and each player’s 2018 fWAR as reference and contrast to this year’s performance so far.

Unfortunately, Charlie Blackmon falls in at number five on his list. It’s not all that surprising, considering Chuck’s cold start, but he has actually come close to redeeming himself with his bat over the last week or so, hitting his way back up to a 91 wRC+ (228 wRC+ and slashing .429/.484/.857 over last 31 plate appearances). As Jacob points out, though, his defense is still a major liability and will continue to weigh down his star potential.

Outstanding Starting Pitching Has Helped Lift The Rockies From The Depths | Forbes

On a positive note, the Rockies are only 3.0 games behind the division-leading Dodgers following yesterday’s loss to the Nationals, and they will look forward to staff ace German Márquez taking the mound for the rubber match. It’s a trend Rockies fans have gotten used to recently, as the starting pitching has been the team’s saving grace for some time now, and as Jack Etkin writes, it is the biggest reason the Rockies still have a chance in 2019 still.

Bettis on relieving: ‘A breath of fresh air’ | MLB.com

Chad Bettis struggled in the starting rotation to begin the year, so when Antonio Senzatela was activated from the Injured List earlier this month, Chad found himself relegated to the bullpen. As it turns out, it may not have been the worst thing for Chad—mentally or professionally—as he says the experience has been a “breath of fresh air.”

In limited time so far, Chad has pitched four innings out of the bullpen since his “demotion” to the tune of a 2.25 ERA, a 2.60 FIP, and has struck out one batter while walking none. It’s a very small sample size—statistically—but Bettis has been very happy with his transition, as Thomas Harding explains in this piece. Chad has apparently altered some of his mechanics and throwing technique to regain some power in his fastball, and it’s power he recognizes is most effective in short bursts—i.e. in relief. If it’s good for Chad, it’s good for the Rockies.

Jim Duquette: The Top 10 shortstop prospects in baseball | The Athletic ($)

Jim Duquette put together his list of the top ten shortstop prospects in baseball right now, and Brendan Rodgers (no. 9 overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline) comes in at number four. What that tells us right off the bat is that the shortstop position is stacked currently, but Rodgers finds himself in some highly touted company such as Fernando Tatís Jr., Bo Bichette, and Wander Franco.

Duquette says Brendan’s path to the major leagues goes through second base, where he could eventually become a Gold Glove winner with speed and 25+ home run potential. He will be a middle-of-the-order bat who can play nearly every day. With Nolan and Trevor holding down the left side, and Ryan McMahon sliding over to first base eventually, the Rockies could find themselves with a sustainable powerhouse infield before too long.

On the farm

Last week I said I was running out of ways to describe Ryan Rolison’s dominance—well, shoot. I also said it wouldn’t be long before we saw Rolison in Lancaster, and he was promoted to High-A just five days later. Wouldn’t you know it, Ryan came out and absolutely shut down Lake Elsinore for six innings, giving up just two hits (both singles), and striking out seven. Piece of cake.

In just over twenty innings in the minor leagues so far this season, Ryan has allowed one earned run, walked two batters, and struck out twenty-one. This kid is on another plane of existence entirely right now, and—I never thought I’d say it—Brendan Rodgers may seriously be at risk to lose his spot as the Rockies top prospect before he graduates if this continues.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 2, Portland Sea Dogs 1 | MiLB.com

High-A: Lake Elsinore Storm 3, Lancaster JetHawks 1 | MiLB.com

Low-A: Delmarva Shorebirds 7, Asheville Tourists 0 | MiLB.com