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Who’s up and who’s down for the Rockies

Raimel Tapia has found his home run swing, and Tyler Anderson keeps giving up home runs

It can’t be hot or cold for the Rockies the whole season, but that’s what it’s been like so far. The Rockies began the year with a 3-12 record. They put themselves in a hole, and even with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be like that the whole season, in the moment it felt dire. And then the Rockies turned around and went on a 10-2 run, nearly pulling the club back to .500. It was very bad and then it was very good. The Rockies have gone 2-3 since that 10-2 stretch. Maybe now is when they’ll settle into the other thing that happens to baseball teams every year, which is winning about every other day for a big chunk of games.

Here’s what has been most exciting lately, as well as what could be cause for worry. Or, in the parlance of This Week in Purple, here’s what’s been Good and Bad about the Rockies.

What was good

It certainly appears that Raimel Tapia has arrived after spending years as a polarizing prospect, as well as a couple as a polarizing post-prospect. Tapia received limited opportunities over the past three seasons — especially in 2018 — but now there’s finally room enough in the outfield for Tapia to get regular playing time and find a rhythm at the plate. He especially showed up for the final two games in Milwaukee, where he went 4-for-10 with a double and a home run.

Those two games gave him a boost, and for the season Tapia’s now hitting .286/.389/.584. And in fact, according to wRC+, Tapia has been the Rockies second best hitter so far this season with a 121 mark, behind only David Dahl’s 135. He’s just ahead of Nolan Arenado (120), a fair bit ahead of Trevor Story (113), and pretty far ahead of Charlie Blackmon (98). It’s necessary to note that Arenado, Story, and Blackmon all have about 60 more plate appearances than Tapia, so it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison, but his results are there.

The process is improving as well. Tapia still has the highest swing rate on the team, and his contact rate isn’t where it should be to justify swinging so often, but it no longer feels like he’s starting each at bat 0-2.

This is an undeniably good development for the Rockies, and it’s only tempered by that bad feeling that he’s still only going to be a half-time player.

What was bad

The back end of the Rockies starting rotation hasn’t been great so far in 2019, and the weakest link has been Tyler Anderson. In Anderson’s last start, he didn’t get out of the fifth inning. He gave up five runs on four hits and four walks — three of those five hits were home runs. Though he did strike out nine batters. That inflated Anderson’s ERA to an unsightly 11.34.

The Rockies have a good starting rotation, and very few teams have solid number five starters. Often, the “fifth starter” is a rotating cast of three or four spot starters. But the Rockies do have other depth options. Jeff Hoffman’s one start this season was pretty good, and at some point this summer, Peter Lambert and Ryan Castellani may be ready for the majors.

Anderson is much better than his ERA reflects — there’s no question about that. But it is an open question whether or not he’s good enough to keep his spot in the rotation through the All-Star break. He’ll have a chance to turn things around tonight (Friday) at home against the Diamondbacks.

What else was good

Baseball is a sign of spring, and there have been baseball games being played for two and a half months now. I live in western New York though, and since the Rockies started playing ball I’ve shoveled snow and have only recently packed up my winter jacket. But spring is finally arriving — everything is blooming at once, and it’s a sight to see. It’s plenty enough to remind me that worrying about Raimel Tapia’s playing time or Tyler Anderson’s ERA are interesting to think and talk about, but are not nearly as significant as I sometimes make them out to be.

What was good for you this week?