The trade deadline has passed. Choices were made by Bill Schmidt and the Rockies front office. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s been done and what’s been done can not be undone.
Although it felt like the season (and hope for the organization) came to a crashing end last week, it didn’t. The Rockies still have 56 games remaining and they’ll need to win 19 of them to avoid surpassing or tying their worst season in franchise history.
If you’re thinking of tuning them out for those remaining 56 games because there’s nothing to look forward to, that’s understandable but you shouldn’t. No I’m not being paid by the Rockies to say that (though they should be), it’s just that there’s still some intriguing developments that’ll be happening in this final stretch.
The ascension of Brendan Rodgers
The continued health of Brendan Rodgers has allowed him to reach over 200 plate appearances this season, doubling the amount he had his first two years and giving us a real look at who Rodgers is as a major league player. Turns out, he’s good and has promise to be even better.
Rodgers currently leads the team in OPS at .807. This is thanks to his recent home run tear he’s been on as he’s homered in four of his last seven games. Since July 21st, he’s also hitting .324 with five of his twelve hits being extra base hits. This is a great sight to see especially since eight of the nine games in that stretch have been on the road where the Rockies hit a league worst .212. In fact, Rodgers is just one of two players (Blackmon) on the roster who have been splits on the road.
From what he’s shown this season, it seems clear Rodgers is an everyday player. At the least, he deserves to be treated like one for the remainder of the year. It helps that it seems he’s settling in well at the two spot in the lineup hitting .281 there. These next two months will tell us a lot more about not just who Rodgers is but who he could be in the future.
Continued improvement from the rotation
Besides not moving Trevor Story, the biggest franchise development to happen this season has been the emergence of what has mostly been an elite starting rotation. Last season the starters combined for a 4.83 ERA but this season when fully healthy the rotation holds a combined 3.97 ERA. As we know they’ve been led by first time All-Star Germán Márquez but it’s really been a group effort that’s kept this team competitive on a nightly basis. Jon Gray and Austin Gomber are also enjoying career years. Really the entire rotation, one through five, seem to have all become masters of pitching at Coors Field. Rockies fans have been waiting decades for a rotation to figure that out.
Going forward, the rotation looks to be the centerpiece of the club for at least the near future, especially if Gray re-signs like he wants to. Now we just need to know that what they’ve done since about May, is legitimate. A solid and healthy August and September from everyone at home AND on the road would make it abundantly clear to all that these guys are the real deal and deserve the “retool” that the front office seems to be going for. Any regression from the rotation will seriously hurt the front office’s case for the “retool.”
For the bottom half of the league, August and September are some of the most grueling months of baseball to bare. The teams are no longer in contention, some have just been stripped for parts and sold off to the highest bidder and the remaining players just want to round out their numbers and get to the offseason. But if there’s one thing that glimmers through these final dog days it’s September call-ups.
Unfortunately, under the new rules laid out back in 2019, rosters can only expand to a maximum and minimum of 28 players, instead of the previous maximum of 40, on September 1st. This will make things especially tough for the Rockies who decided not to move any of their veterans besides Mychal Givens at the deadline. This potential roster crunch will make each roster spot even more valuable down the stretch.
As recently as June, the Rockies had given the impression they’d like to get looks at at least three prospects who’ve yet to make their debuts; Ryan Rolison, who’s still working his way back from having his appendix removed in June, Colton Welker, who was suspended 80 games for testing positive of a banned substance and will return in a few days and Ryan Vilade who’s slashing .282/.344/.391 at Triple-A Albuquerque. Also working their way into the conversation for a call-up would be Taylor Motter (1.264 OPS in about 200 ABs) and Alan Trejo (.910 OPS).
That’s at least four players, five if Rolison is deemed ready, that have very strong cases for a call-up sometime between now and the end of the season. Not to mention, the eventual return and reinstatement of Peter Lambert from the IL. There’s also Joshua Fuentes, does he work his way back?
This type of roster crunch is going to happen to just about every team. DFA’s and options like we saw with Fuentes could be flying left and right. Could guys like Chi Chi González or Jhoulys Chacín be candidates?
Teams might instead opt to shut players down that final month. Those who’ve had lingering injuries like Chris Owings and even the unhappy Trevor Story could be shelved. If you remember last season, Nolan Arenado was shut down two weeks early. Teams might also choose to shut down or skip starts for important arms that’ll be counted on for years to come like Germán Márquez.
The Rockies will have to do some roster shuffling but from a fan perspective it’s fresh intrigue to possibly see someone like Taylor Motter who’s been shredding in Triple-A or Ryan Vilade and Ryan Rolison who’ve been talked about for years, finally get their shot.
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Patrick Saunders sounds off with his thoughts on the decision to hold onto Trevor Story through the deadline. While it feels like interim-GM Bill Schmidt is the favorite for the job this offseason, he brings up the interesting note that he’s heard from some around the league that they believe Schmidt has the right “temperament” and that owner Dick Monfort would just need to allow Schmidt to assemble the right front office team. After the deadline, Schmidt did say team president Greg Feasel and Monfort allowed him to make the call. Even if Schmidt has autonomy, fans don’t seem to be confident about his judgment.
Taylor Motter has been one of the hottest players in all of Triple-A. In July, the 31-year-old smashed 15 home runs and drove in 35 runs. Motter tells RoxPile that he wanted to make it a tough decision for the Rockies front office on what to do with him. As I mentioned above, he’s definitely forced his way into the conversation for a call-up.
On the farm
The Isotopes score five runs in the bottom of the sixth to power past Salt Lake in the first game of a two game double header. Ryan Vilade, Taylor Motter, Wynton Bernard all recorded multi-hit games but it was catcher Dustin Garneau who stole the spotlight. The 33-year-old hit a double and a grand slam to put his team ahead. Yency Almonte and Robert Stephenson both made rehab appearances. Stephenson started the game and gave up two hits and a walk for two runs in his one inning of work. Almonte threw a hitless second inning but did give up a walk.
The Isotopes again snuck out a win in the final innings. They scored two runs in each of the final two innings. Alan Trejo went 2-for-3 but it was Greg Bird and once again Taylor Motter who got the big timely RBI’s. Starting pitcher Frank Duncan nearly went the seven inning distance but still finished with just two runs given up in six innings allowing four hits and one walk.
Despite scoring five runs in the first inning, the Yard Goats could not muster enough offense to overcome the Rumble Ponies. Those five runs in the first were thanks to a grand slam by second baseman and clean-up hitter, Coco Montes. Catcher Max George and outfielder Matt Hearn each recorded multi-hit games. Starter Nate Harris went just 4 1⁄3 innings and allowed six runs on eleven hits.
The Indians could not generate enough offense against the Canadians pitching staff, recording just four total hits. Two of the hits were home runs by both Niko Decolati and AJ Lewis in the bottom of the fifth. Starter Chris McMahon went 6 1⁄3 innings with three runs allowed and six strikeouts.
The Grizzlies were out-slugged by Lake Elsinore who’s six extra base hits led to a resounding win over Fresno. Starter Anderson Amarista had a rough outing, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits and five walks in 5 1⁄3 innings. Zac Veen went 1-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and a stolen base, his 28th of the season. Eddy Diaz also went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base, his 32nd of the year.
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