As the old adage goes, you can’t win a championship in May, but you can lose it. This has been repeated more than once this year, an up-and-down season for the Rockies that has been defined by inconsistency. Well they’re not alone. Will Leitch gives us his six teams who are performing below expectations and are running out of time to remain relevant in 2019, and the Rockies are smack-dab in the middle.
Leitch offers two big reasons the Rockies are in this position. 1) Their starting rotation, which has carried them to two Postseason berths the past two years, has been a let down thus far—Kyle Freeland in particular. And 2) Ian Desmond and Daniel Murphy, two of the biggest offseason acquisitions on the books for the Rockies, have been offensive busts.
Of course, there’s still time for all of the above to turn it around and put together some big games for the Rockies. Unfortunately, though, they’re staring up at some surprising teams in the division and, well, the Dodgers. The Wild Card race is looking even tougher this year, and the margin for error is growing smaller. Tick tock, Rockies, tick tock.
Jake Shapiro agrees with Will Leitch on one thing in particular, “it’s more or less essential for Freeland to turn things around for the Rockies to keep their postseason streak alive.” Luckily, Jake argues, there is reason to believe Kyle hasn’t necessarily been “bad” as much as he has been unlucky with the degree in which batters have been able to punish his mistakes. Agree with his assertion or not, but Jake offers specific data and analysis of Kyle’s pitches that suggest a turn around is still possible.
Seunghwan Oh finds himself in a similar boat as Kyle Freeland—two pitchers who were key components of a playoff pitching staff who have struggled mightily this season. So what’s wrong with Oh? According to Kyle Newman, it’s pretty simple—his command has been awful. Pitches have been left up in the zone, and when you don’t throw he ball in the mid-to-upper nineties, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Oh, as expected, has remained even-keeled in the biggest funk of his career. He is still confident and doesn’t believe there is really anything wrong with him, he’s just missing locations. The answer, he believes, lies in is ability to focus on his mind and heart. If he does that, the good results will follow. It’s very zen of him—I just hope it works, and soon.
On the brighter side of the diamond, Luke Zahlman writes about the Rockies recent surge of offense after sputtering out of the gates to start the year. In March and April, the Rox struck out over three times as often as they walked, and had seven games (out of thirty, or just under 25%) where they scored only one run or fewer. Not good, Bob. In the month of May, however, the Rockies have begun to shift that trend, and the results have been good.
In Thursday and Friday’s victories over the Giants and Padres, the Rockies scored twelve runs, the first time they’ve scored twelve or more runs in back-to-back games since 2008. Entering Saturday, the Rockies had qualified for taco’s (seven runs or more) in six of eight May games. Something seemed to flip, they were striking out less, and the bats came alive.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing for last night’s 4-3 loss to the Padres. The Rockies only managed six hits and struck out times to just one walk. That’s not a recipe for success. Still, it’s just one game surrounded by much more positive results. Bad losses will always happen, but more important is the Rockies offense trending upwards overall.
You know the offense must be feeling good if Ian Desmond is one of the hottest hitters on the team right now. Thomas Harding writes about Desi’s sudden resurgence, relatively speaking, and how the 33-year-old center fielder has used rest to up his game again. As I’ve written before, Ian is increasing his fly ball and hard hit rates.
In fact, as Thomas points out, Ian is ranked 9th among all qualified hitters (343) since April 25th with 59.3% of his balls in play hit hard. He also continues to hit well against lefties (slashing .262/.340/.595 vs. LHP entering Saturday) and is proving that a platoon with him and Raimel Tapia isn’t so bad. So whatya say, Rockies fans, can Desi play a key role in this team’s push for relevancy after all?
On the farm
Jeff Hoffman will not go quietly into the busted prospect night. In yesterday’s game against the Grizzlies, Jeff pitched 5.2 innings, gave up just two runs on four hits and two walks, and struck out ten batters. In his last three games, (18.1 IP) Jeff has only allowed four runs, but more importantly, he has only walked five batters to go with 27 strikeouts. With the Rockies rotation in a state of urgency, they will undoubtedly take another look at Jeff very soon.
In Hartford, Colton Welker and Willie Abreu had multi-hit games and propelled the Goats to victory. Abreu’s season has been less than stellar thus far, but Welker continues to impress at the plate and make a bid for another promotion, this time to Albuquerque. He is blocked by Josh Fuentes (and Nolan, of course), but having too many good prospects nearing MLB readiness is never a bad thing.