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No June swoon for Rockies

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Colorado Rockies News and Links for Thursday, July 1, 2021

June was better. The Rockies actually had a winning record — 14-13 — in June. That of course was ballooned by a 12-4 performance at Coors Field in the month and decimated by a 2-9 showing on the road. But for the first time since June of 2019, the Rockies actually posted a winning record in a full month of baseball action. The Rockies went 4-6 in July of 2020, but that doesn’t really count. Otherwise, it had been seven baseball months since the Rockies were above .500 in a month.

In a season such as this, any sign of improvement is a great thing.

One big reason for the boost was an uptick in offensive production. In the month of June, the Rockies ranked No. 4 in the MLB in average at .267, were tied for fifth with 15 stolen bases, and ranked No. 6 in both hits (655) and doubles (51). While the homers are still lagging, as the Rockies were tied at No. 25 in June with 27 (far from the seven teams that have 40 or more), more doubles, more guys on base (the .327 OBP is the highest of the three months this year), and more guys moving on base, led to the most monthly runs (4.59 per game run average) this year.

Rockies Offensive Monthly Breakdown

Month Games Record Home Away Team Avg. Team OBP Team SLG Run Avg. HR 2B RBI BB SO SB
Month Games Record Home Away Team Avg. Team OBP Team SLG Run Avg. HR 2B RBI BB SO SB
April 26 9-17 8-7 1-10 0.235 0.292 0.405 4.42 30 38 109 69 230 11
May 28 11-17 8-5 3-12 0.233 0.313 0.359 4.04 19 45 105 95 237 19
June 26 14-13 12-4 2-9 0.267 0.327 0.424 4.59 27 50 119 78 227 15
Totals 81 34-47 28-16 6-31 0.245 0.311 0.397 4.35 76 134 333 242 694 45

Raimel Tapia led the way by hitting the most doubles in the MLB in the month of June at 15, 14 of which came during his 18-game hitting streak. Yonathan Daza also provided a huge spark, slashing .327/.364/.446 with 15 RBI. I have to admit, there were a number of moments where watching the Rockies was fun in June. The offense was making things happen. There were 13 games when the Rockies scored five runs or more.

This kind of production (and more) has to continue and guys like Ryan McMahon (.245/.303/.486), Trevor Story (.259/.332/.446), and Charlie Blackmon (.264/.366/.378) have to step up. Currently, Daza is the only Rockie with at least 100 at-bats to be hitting over .300.

The homer slump is also really hurting the Rockies. Through three months, only two Rockies are in the top 100 in the MLB in homers with Ryan McMahon tied for 27th with 16 and C.J. Cron 74th with 11 (Home Run Derby participant Story is tied for 104th with nine). With a vacant Blake Street Bomber contingent, the doubles, the baserunners, and the rallies have to become more normalized in July, August, and September for the Rockies to remain enjoyable to watch. Even more importantly, this needs to happen so that some kind of foundation can be established of how the Rockies are going to move forward and with whom.

Back to the 14-win June though, obviously another key piece to the record was the continued impressive starts from the rotation. Germán Márquez capped off the month with a near no-hitter: a one-hit, complete game shutout on Tuesday night. That completed a month when he posted a 2.41 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, a .156 batting average against, and 32 strikeouts while going 4-1 in 41 innings.

Austin Gomber went 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in 21 innings with 16 strikeouts before being placed on the 10-day IL. Antonio Senzatela remained solid with a 4.40 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with a 1.40 WHIP. Kyle Freeland seems to be trending in the right direction as he’s only given up one run in his last two starts (11 innings total). Jon Gray only pitched 13 1/3 innings in June due to injury, but looked solid in six innings against the Pirates on Wednesday when he surrendered just two runs on two hits in the win.

Rockies Monthly Pitching Breakdown

Month Games Record ERA Starter ERA Bullpen ERA BB SO GDP HR CG
Month Games Record ERA Starter ERA Bullpen ERA BB SO GDP HR CG
April 26 9-17 4.76 4.54 5.08 108 201 20 28 1
May 28 11-17 4.87 4.30 5.82 96 201 24 34 1
June 27 14-13 4.74 4.41 5.30 79 215 25 35 1
Totals 81 34-47 4.77 4.44 5.46 283 617 69 97 3

Chi Chi González struggled with a 7.71 ERA in 25 2/3 innings over four starts and one relief appearance as he continues to fill in for injured starters (currently Gomber). If the rotation could get in a grove with Márquez, Gomber, Freeland, Gray, and Senzatela, it could also be fun to watch.

The bullpen is still the bullpen, but the relievers did reduce their ERA by half a run and the team as a whole drastically reduced walks in June. That’s something to build off of, especially with Mychal Givens set to come back early in July.

Let’s see what happens in July, starting with a four-game series against the Cardinals when Nolan Arenado returns to Coors Field. Back in 2019, the month marked the 6-19 collapse that dropped the Rockies from second place in the NL West to fifth. While it’s not reasonable to expect much movement from the Rockies’ current fourth-place standing, at least it’s nice to know that fifth place is solidly occupied by the Diamondbacks.

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Injuries & Roster Moves: Freeland plays catch | MLB.com

Good news: Kyle Freeland is not expected to miss his next start (July 3 vs. the Cardinals). After exiting from his start on Monday with a leg cramp after a bunt single and follow-up hits moved him to third base, time has revealed no “bleed-out or inflammation in his right hamstring.” Freeland was able to throw from 120 feet on Wednesday and then could see a full bullpen session soon, along with continued treatment.

In other injury recovery news, reliever Mychal Givens is expected to begin his rehab assignment Thursday with the Isotopes and could be back with the Rockies between July 5-11. Givens was placed on the 10-day IL on June 17 with a lower back strain. Austin Gomber, who landed on the 10-day IL with left forearm tightness on June 20, is slated to begin bullpen sessions today as he also inches toward a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque. Robert Stephenson, who was only placed on the 10-day IL on June 28 with upper back tightness, doesn’t have an anticipated comeback date yet, but he’s not eligible to do so until July 8 at the earliest.

Even though it really seems hard to imagine that what the Rockies need right now is another infielder, Matt Adams is also close to starting an Isotope rehab assignment after hurting his right elbow and being placed on the 10-day IL on June 9.

Jhoulys Chacin cherishes 10 years in MLB now back with Rockies: “It’s even more special” | Denver Post ($)

The headline pretty much sums it up, but this Kyle Fredrickson also notes how well Chacin is pitching of late, holding opponents scoreless in four of his last six outings (two earned runnings in eight innings). Once a solid starter who notched 38 wins for the Rockies, Chacin credits a strong mentality to helping him succeed after being cut by the Yankees in spring training and only seeing three appearances in May with the Rockies. In June, Chacin had a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings over eight appearances, five of which were scoreless.

Here is the June All-Star team | MLB.com

One Rockie made Will Leitch’s list: Austin Gomber. That’s more than the current voting totals for the top three position players in the NL right now. Gomber is a deserving pick with a 3-0 record, 1.29 ERA, and 10 strikeouts in 15 innings. That includes his eight-inning, three-hit, shutout performance against San Diego on June 14. Going back even farther, Gomber is 4-1 in his last seven starts with a 1.85 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 39 innings.

On the farm

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 2, Altoona Curve 2, suspended

This one only made it 1 ½ innings before rain pushed it to Thursday. The game will resume Thursday where it left off and now be part of a doubleheader. On Wednesday, in the top of the first, Ryan Feltner gave up two runs on four hits, including a double. The Yard Goats tied it right back in the bottom of the frame when Elehuris Montero hit a two-run single.

High-A: Tri City Dirt Devils 4, Spokane Indians 3

Trent Fennell had a great start for the Indians, throwing five scoreless, no-hit innings with nine strikeouts and only one walk. Spokane scored its first run in the bottom of the third when Isaac Collins reached on an error and Daniel Cope came around to score. Tri City evened the score in the sixth when Brendon Davis hit an RBI double. Finneas Del Bonta-Smith then gave up two homers in the eighth and the Dirt Devils took a 4-1 lead.

Spokane rallied back for two runs in the bottom of the eighth when Aaron Schunk hit an RBI double and then came around to score on a single by Michael Toglia, who was just named to the All-Star Futures Game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 5, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 0

Andrew DePiazza (3 2/3 innings), Juan Mejia (1/3 inning), Keegan James (4 innings), and Austin Kitchen (1 inning) all combined for a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts for the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Grant Lavigne hit a two-run homer and Zac Veen and Bryant Quijada each added a solo shot for Fresno. Veen also added an RBI single and scored two runs, while Lavigne scored three runs. Eddy Diaz added two hits, including a double, and scored a run.

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