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The Rockies are struggling, but let’s not give up on 2019 quite yet

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Rockies news and links for Wednesday, April 3, 2019

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Rockies early season struggles at the plate are cause for concern | Mile High Sports

Just for a bit of context, this article from Aniello Piro was written before the drubbing the Rockies received at the hands of Blake Snell and the Tampa Bay Rays. I’ll also admit it, I kind of scoff at early season takes like this. The sample size is too small, and I plant myself firmly in the it’s-too-early-to-panic camp. That being said... yikes. This four-game stretch even has me a little worried. Yes, it’s six games out of 162—or about 4% of the season—but if you combine it with last season’s offensive woes, there’s some cause for concern.

So far, scoring runs has been difficult in two games against a very bad team and two games against a pretty good team, so average competition on average. The Rockies have scored a total of 15 runs, but as Aniello points out, 12 of those runs were in the first two games, which means this team has scored three runs in four games. It’s ugly out there, folks, but let’s hold off on hitting the panic button for now—there will be plenty of time for that down the road.

Colorado Rockies: Runners on First…and Second-Guesses | Rox Pile

Maybe you’re feeling a bit disappointed by the season so far. Maybe upset, or angry. You might even want to let your frustrations the Rockies out openly and collectively. Well, Aaron Hurt has a new Rox Pile segment just for you—a “Festivus” style airing of grievances—and he opens up about the Rockies poor performances in this first installment.

Why the Rockies don’t and won’t use an ‘opener’ pitcher to start games, like the Rays do | The Athletic ($)

In Monday’s 7-1 loss to the Rays, the Rockies were once again undone by their poor hitting. A big part of this was due to the success of one of the newest trends in baseball—the opener. Hard-throwing right-hander Ryne Stanek started the game for the Rays and struck out the side in the first inning before giving way to the “wily lefty,” Ryan Yarbrough, who pitched 4.1 effective innings. The Rockies were off-balance from the start, and it showed.

In this piece, Nick Groke explains why this strategy works so well for the Rays, and why it wouldn’t work for a team like the Rockies. The Rays lack the depth and talent (outside of Snell) the Rockies have for starting pitching. As a result, they need to “hide” their deficiency by using bullpen arms more often. Groke argues the Rockies have eight starters who are all capable of holding down a rotation spot in the big leagues, and therefor don’t need to jump on any pitching gimmick bandwagon to improve their odds of winning.

Rockies make a statement with latest signing | BSN Denver ($)

According to Drew Creasman, anyone who thought the Rockies contention window was closing needs to take another look because they WILL see it for long. There has been a long-held opinion by many pundits and others in the fan community who believed the window was 2018-20 or so, but the Rockies are making a statement that they see it extending much farther than that with yet another contract extension for a key player—German Márquez. As Drew states, the Rockies have a vision, and the future is bright.

Rockies’ Kyle Freeland rises to occasion, with embarrassing John Elway moment still fresh | Sporting News

Ryan Fagan of Sporting News has the details on Kyle Freeland’s embarrassing moment with John Elway from when the Rockies pitcher was a kid. More importantly, it’s a fascinating look at how Kyle has learned to deal with adversity—particularly on the mound—and how he stays calm and collected with traffic on base.

For instance, Kyle utilizes pitch-by-pitch breathing exercises to stay focused, which helped him only give up one home run the entire season last year with men on base (of 17 total HR’s given up, 16 were of the solo variety). This aptitude toward limiting damage showed up in yesterday’s loss, also, when Kyle shut down the Rays for 3.1 IP after giving up three runs in the first inning. He struck out a career-best-tying total of 10 batters and kept the Rockies in the game despite their inability to provide him with run support.

JetHawks settle in | Antelope Valley Press

As Brian Golden writes, there’s a lot of unfamiliarity for the Lancaster JetHawks this season—new players, new manager, and even a new alternate team identity, El Viento de Lancaster for MiLB’s Copa de la Diversion Latino outreach program. Despite the changes, the JetHawks are ready to begin the season in windy Antelope Valley (where their Copa name gets its inspiration from), and will host the former Rockies affiliate Modesto Nuts on Thursday. With the promotion of Colton Welker to Double-A, the JetHawks will look to new roster addition Ryan Vilade to make up for some lost offensive production this year.