Nick Groke discusses the latest trends in the Ian Desmond saga, including his battle for playing time with Raimel Tapia (or is it a platoon?), and how the veteran’s adjustments at the plate appear to be paying off. For one thing, Desmond is increasing his pull rate and using left field more, but most importantly, he’s hitting the ball harder than he ever has in his time with the Rockies (small sample size alert—94 plate appearances entering Tuesday) and he’s hitting it into the air instead of straight into the ground.
Groke has the tables and figures that offer hope of Ian Desmond salvaging a worthwhile season in his time with the Rockies, but is it too little too late? Tapia is getting more and more time in the lineup, making the most of it, and Desmond is only getting older. And despite his positive trends, Ian sat at a measly 32 wRC+ going into yesterday’s game. Sure, his two-run bomb in the 9th inning will help his case and numbers—and Bud Black still appears to have Ian’s back—but if the Rockies falter down the stretch and need a spark, Desi may be one of the first casualties of young players, like Tapia, getting more at-bats.
In a subject that hits close to home for me, whose day job is in animal welfare, Kevin Henry offers this wonderful look into Jon Gray’s time and efforts to help local shelter dogs find new homes in Colorado. Gray and his wife have been working with local organizations such as Planned Pethood and National Mill Dog Rescue to help reduce the ASPCA’s estimation of 3.3 million dogs entering shelters each year in America because, as Jon says himself, “all dogs deserve a chance.” Well, it shouldn’t surprise us the Gray Wolf has an affinity for canines.
On Monday, in the first game of the series against the Brewers, the Rockies defensive prowess was on full display. Andrew Wagner of MLB.com spoke to Lorenzo Cain—known for his own hit-stealing gold glove abilities—about his frustrating at-bats and hard-hit balls that turned into multiple outs, and it turns out LoCain’s own medicine isn’t so sweet.
The Rockies rank ninth overall in baseball—fourth in the NL—in defensive runs above average (DEF) and UZR, led by Trevor Story in both categories. Nolan is right behind him, of course, and I suspect that order will change by the end of the year. Ryan McMahon has also done a great job defensively at both first and second base, and Tony Wolters continues to be one of the best defensive catchers currently playing. The Rockies are once again proving to be a well-rounded team who can fill up the highlight reels on any given night.
Ben Macaluso sure has one thing right—it has been one hell of an up-and-down opening month of April for the Rockies to start the 2019 season. When things go so well and so wrong in a short amount of time, there are usually more questions than answers. The fact that this team finds themselves in a position to be able to compete for a playoff berth after starting the year miserably at 3-12 says a lot, and going 10-5 since then speaks to their resilience. They’re a team who, like Ben says, won’t back down.
So what do we make of it all? Well, it’s conveniently too early to tell. We’ve seen the Rockies play like they’re hoping for a first overall pick in the draft, as well as though they’re aiming for their first NL West division crown in franchise history. Like Ian Desmond, we’ve seen the good and the bad, and the only sure thing is there’s a lot of baseball left to figure it all out.
On the farm
Ryan Castellani hit a two-run home run for the ‘Topes on Tuesday evening, but also gave up nine runs (four home runs) in 4.0 innings of work. Pat Valaika had another big night in Albuquerque by swatting two solo dingers, and he continues to make the Rockies front office scratch their heads at the Quadruple-A enigma he has become.
In Hartford, Colton Welker went 2-for-4 with a double and raised his slashline to a hearty .356/.400/.552, while Rico Garcia struck out a career-high 11 batters in 6.2 IP. Rico now sports a 1.82 ERA in five starts for the Yard Goats and could easily make the leap to Triple-A before the season is over.
The Tourists walked it off when Grant Lavigne doubled to begin the ninth inning and was brought home on a Willie MacIver single. Willie is having a tremendous year for Asheville, slashing .325/.398/.625 with 5 HR and 18 RBI (plus, half of his 26 hits so far have been XBH), but he has also struck out 25 times to just 8 walks. Terrin Vavra also hit a home run for the Tourists and continues his hot 2019—he is still terrin it up. *puts on sunglasses and leaves*