An extended stint at Coors Field would normally be a good thing for the Rockies, but as Patrick Saunders points out, not this year.
Some of the depressing stats are
• The Rockies are 9-12 at home (as opposed to 11-11 on the road).
• Colorado pitchers have a 7.24 ERA at Coors Field.
• The Rockies hit better at Coors Field (.296 team batting average, 29 homers, and 5.71 runs per game), but opposing teams hit even better (.326 average with 32 homers and 7.71 runs per game).
• The Rockies have lost seven out of their last 11 in LoDo.
Saunders quotes Trevor Story, who said, “All we want at the end of the year is to control our own destiny.” If the Rockies want to be in the driver’s seat in the playoff hunt, this stretch will highly influence if the Rockies make the postseason or not.
While the idea that pitching is key for a team’s success is common sense, it’s especially true for the Rockies with a rotation that is struggling, to say it politely, and a bullpen that has collapsed.
Only the Red Sox have a worse starting pitcher ERA over the last 14 days than the Rockies at 6.36. Jon Gray is on the 10-day IL. Chi Chi González couldn’t get out of the first inning in his bid to replace him. Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 3.69) and Kyle Freeland (2-1, 3.60) have had the most success, but many of their quality starts have been wasted by a slumping offense and/or a bullpen that throws batting practice in the final innings. Germán Márquez has shined at times, but has gone 0-4 over his last six starts with a 6.00 ERA and is 1-3 with a 7.03 ERA at Coors Field in four starts. That’s not a recipe for a playoff team.
Earlier this week, Purple Row’s Sam Bradfield made a good argument for bringing up 23-year-old lefty Ryan Rolison and adding him to the rotation. Nick Groke also pitches this idea, noting that Rolison’s performances in spring training and summer camp were impressive. The downside is that he hasn’t pitched above Single-A and rushing a player could hurt his confidence and development.
José Mujica faced a rough MLB-debut welcome by surrendering six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in the 14-5 loss to the Padres on Sept. 8 and now he’s headed back to the alternate training site. Groke quotes Bud Black, who seems hesitant to give Rolison the call-up: “We’ve talked about whether it’s doable. I’m not sure that he’s ready for two weeks of September baseball in a pennant race.”
After three weeks on the injured list with a core injury, David Dahl is back with the Rockies. Hopefully the Dahl that is back resembles the Dahl of 2019, who hit .302 with 61 RBI and 15 homers in 100 games, instead of the 2020 Dahl who was hitting .189 with no homers and seven RBI in 19 games. Through Aug. 17, right before he went on the IL, Dahl was in the midst of an 0-for-17 hitless streak at the plate.
Bud Black sounds optimistic about Dahl’s return, saying, “It looks as though he’s healthy, he’s ready to go, he’s in a good frame of mind. We’ll try to get him in there as we get to the weekend and as we get to this homestand. But we need David to be ready.”
One problem for David Dahl is that he is returning to a crowded outfield and he’s effectively lost the leadoff hitter role (which honestly wasn’t a good place for him in the first place in my opinion). Raimel Tapia has taken over as leadoff hitter and as the left fielder. Center field has good options in Kevin Pillar, who the Rockies acquired from the Red Sox in Dahl’s absence, and Garrett Hampson. Charlie Blackmon is in right and has voiced his desire not to be DH and even backed it up with two double plays recently in gunning the ball back into the infield, including doubling up San Diego’s Luis Torrens on Aug. 29.
However, since Dahl can play all three outfield spots, he is versatile. He could also take turns at DH with Blackmon and Matt Kemp. Sam Hilliard stands to lose the most time as he is batting .238/.304/.488 with 33 strikeouts in 92 plate appearances, but he also has six homers.
The Rockies also made other roster moves, sending right-handed pitchers José Mujica, who was banged up for six earned runs (seven total) in Tuesday’s 14-5 loss to San Diego, and Antonio Santos, who pitched three scoreless innings before surrendering three more runs in the same loss to the Padres, to the alternate training site. Along with Dahl, right-handed pitcher Ashton Goudeau also rejoined the Rockies roster.
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