The money quote here is in the title. Nick Groke spoke to Nolan Arenado, among others, about the Rockies disappointing season and the swelling frustration in the clubhouse. The major concern that Arenado captures is that this season isn’t a blip on an otherwise well-run organization poised to compete for the next couple of years. Instead, it feels much more like the Rockies are a team that needs to put several more pieces in place, and have a few things go right, in order to really be competitive. Otherwise they’re a team that’s not built to withstand unfortunate injuries or setbacks.
It might feel like a rebuild without it being a rebuild, because the Rockies don’t need to start over to be competitive. But they do need more building blocks for that to happen.
The games, indeed, must go on. Patrick Saunders writes about what the Rockies are looking for in September. Charlie Blackmon has an interesting quote, where he says he wants players to “take it as a personal challenge” to play well in the Rockies’ remaining games, however irrelevant wins and losses may be. Bud Black, for his part, told Saunders that he’s interested in seeing how young prospects adjust to the major leagues. Unlike Spring Training, they’ll be facing major leaguers — at least until the opposing team’s 30th man on the roster makes an appearance.
Thomas Harding provides an update on many of the injured Rockies players. He notes that Kyle Freeland is progressing well from the groin strain he suffered on August 20. It sounds like Freeland will pitch again this season, which will be nice to see. Given how his and the Rockies’ season has progressed, seeing Freeland healthy and effective would be a September bright spot.
Harding also notes that German Márquez, who hasn’t pitched since August 22 with arm inflammation, is not likely to pitch again in 2019. Bud Black said that there’s only an “outside chance” he would. Márquez hasn’t thrown since suffering the injury.
The Rockies’ home environment creates a distinctive challenge for them and their ability to navigate a full baseball season. That’s not news to you, and it’s not news to players. In this extensive article, Drew Creasman talks to Chad Bettis about the challenges of altitude and making big adjustments on the road.
Because this distinctive environment is not news, I found it curious that Chad Bettis gives the impression that the players are trying to figure it out themselves. This passage suggests that there might be a lack of involved coaching, or at least guidance, regarding the day-to-day problems playing home games at Coors Field might create:
“You ask each guy, you might get a bunch of different answers,” says Bettis. “Because, for me, maybe it could be throwing a slower curveball here versus on the road. Or maybe it’s keep both. Or maybe it’s don’t throw as many cutters here. Or maybe it’s don’t throw as many changes here. What does it look like to throw sinkers here? What does it look like to go four seemers here. Do I need to pitch up in the zone? Does that mean I need to pitch down on the zone? Does that switch on the road or not?”
It can be a dizzying task to run through the handful of the things to consider.
He kept his roll going: “You start like analyzing what you’re trying to do [while also] controlling that [at-bat] to a certain extent. And those are adjustments that have to be made within split seconds, right? Do I know that I’m going to throw a hard curveball or slow curveball when I’m warming up in the bullpen, and I’m going to go face so-and-so? No. Do I even know when he puts it down for a sign? Maybe. Maybe not. At what point in time do I fully sell out for whatever that is?”
This sounds like Bettis has no idea how to approach the environment and that everyone has their theories as to how to best manage it. Maybe nobody knows for sure, but I sure hope the Rockies are trying to either figure it out or, at the very least, mitigate its physical and mental effects.
Of course, there can’t be a coach always with Bettis on the mound, but if the Rockies aren’t giving their pitchers guiding principles about how to manage the unavoidable fact of playing at and away from Coors Field, they’re not setting them up to succeed.
On the farm
The Grand Junction Rockies are the only minor league game in town, as everyone else’s season ended on Tuesday. Number 27 PuRP Bladimir Restituyo had a hit in the little Rockies’ win.