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What happened to the 2020 Rockies?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Sunday, September 20, 2020

On August 8, the Colorado Rockies defeated the Seattle Mariners 5-0. Charlie Blackmon went 3-for-4 to bring up his batting average to .446 for the young season with a 1.154 OPS. Ryan Castellani, making his major league debut, threw four innings of no-hit ball before giving way to the bullpen, who had the audacity to give up a single hit the rest of the game. Jeff Hoffman allowed that lone hit in his three innings of work and got the win. The team was 11-3 and had the best record in baseball.

On September 18, the Rockies lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 15-6. Blackmon went 1-for-3 to bring his average down to .314 with a .843 OPS. Castellani threw four plus innings and allowed eight runs on four hits, three walks, with two strikeouts. He gave way to the bullpen who went on to give up seven more runs, including three from Hoffman in his 1 23 innings. The team fell to 22-28, three games out of the eighth and final wild card spot.

In case you missed that, the Rockies had the best record in baseball on August 8 and since that date they have had the worst record in baseball. So what happened? The easy answer is that they were playing over their heads early and have been playing more like the team they are since then. But then again, Nolan Arenado, David Dahl, and Ryan McMahon each had an OPS under .700 on August 8. For every player exceeding expectations, there were others putting up underwhelming numbers.

So for now, let’s see if we can’t identify some team-wide trends that can explain what’s happened.


2020 Rockies Offense

Stat Before Aug 8 After Aug 8
Stat Before Aug 8 After Aug 8
Runs/game 5.5 4.4
BA/OBP/SLG .268/.335/.442 .253/.306/.401
K% 21.0% 24.2%
BB% 9.6% 6.9%
OPS .777 .706
ISO .174 .148
BABIP .306 .311
OPS RISP .757 (16th) .746 (20th)
Hard Hit % 32.2% 31.5%
wRC+ 91 (17th) 71 (29th)
Stats through Sept 18 FanGraphs

The secret about the Rockies is that their offense is bad and has been so for a few years. They started the season playing probably more or less how we might expect them to and have since fallen into a crater. The only above average hitters in 2020 are Blackmon (110 OPS+), Trevor Story (131 OPS+), and Josh Fuentes (116 OPS+, albeit in 20 games). There’s plenty of blame to go around here, but it would likely involve parsing through individual performances, which will probably have to wait for our offseason player reviews, so let’s keep going.


2020 Rockies Starting Pitching

Stat Before Aug 8 After Aug 8
Stat Before Aug 8 After Aug 8
IP/G 5.6 5.4
K/9 7.04 5.96
BB/9 2.54 3.1
HR/9 0.81 1.53
BABIP .232 .299
LOB% 77.6% 68.2%
ERA 2.65 5.5
ERA- 51 105
FIP- 78 111
Stats through Sept 18 FanGraphs

There’s some conflicting information here. On one had, the starters went from getting lucky (.232 BAPIP, way below the expected .300 that they have since). But they also went to some extreme unlucky, like that 1.53 HR/9. All told, this unit seems to have gone most from playing over their heads to playing about how we might’ve expected coming into the season. But that would take them from a team winning 78% of their games to maybe a .500 team, so there has to be something else happening.


2020 Rockies Bullpen

Stat Before Aug 8 After Aug 8
Stat Before Aug 8 After Aug 8
IP/G 3.4 3.4
K/9 9.0 7.57
BB/9 2.11 4.22
HR/9 0.77 1.96
BABIP .276 .376
LOB% 73.8% 56.7%
ERA 3.26 8.44
ERA- 62 162
FIP- 68 127
Stats through Sept 18 FanGraphs

I think we finally found the biggest offender. In the first two weeks, the bullpen was good, maybe even great! Since, they have not only been bad, they have been perhaps the worst in baseball. I can barely look at those numbers.


One other thing bears mention. After Saturday’s game, the Rockies have played in 14 games defined by Baseball-Reference as “blowout,” where the margin of victory is five or more runs. They have won just three of those and have been outscored 136-61 in such contests. The Cincinnati Reds (26-26 heading into Saturday) were 10-6 in such games and outscored their opponents 87-85. When it gets ugly for the Rockies, it gets really ugly really fast.

But it’s all bad. It’s all so so very bad. What this means for the team going into 2021 is anyone’s guess. If nothing else we now know that the problem for the 2020 Rockies since August 8 has been, essentially, everything.

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Fuentes impressing in stint at first base |

Josh Fuentes was signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2014. His cousin told the team they should take a flyer on him and now Nolan Arenado is making throws across the diamond to him. Right now, Fuentes looks to get every opportunity to take that first base job.

Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets fans chanting “Beat LA” this weekend | Roxpile

Look, the fact that the Rockies and Nuggets are moving in quite literally opposite directions doesn’t matter as much as everyone in Denver wants to beat LA.

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