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The post-trade deadline Rockies are a different team

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, August 23, 2021

Any group of people that spend nearly eight months out of the year together, are going to experience some major ups and downs. A baseball team is no different. The Rockies are no different.

Key players like Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and Elias Díaz got off to slow starts this year and others have definitely had their own ebbs and flows. That’s just part of sports, every player is always fighting their own battles at the same time the team is fighting theirs. In the first half of the season, the Rockies seemingly were never able to simultaneously fire on all cylinders.

That seems to have changed recently, specifically since the trade deadline has passed.

The guys who throw the ball…

Have almost ALL been throwing it better. The rotation continues to be consistently good, especially at home but the new encouraging development comes from the bullpen.

Since July 30th, the Rockies bullpen has been much improved, throwing for a 4.22 ERA and 1.0 fWAR which is top ten in all of baseball. This stretch includes a near perfect road trip that saw them allow just four runs to two of the best offenses in baseball. It’s a big step forward from the group’s season ERA of 5.18. If kept up, it makes this team a lot more competitive moving forward.

Yency Almonte, Jhoulys Chacín and Carlos Estévez have all played big roles in turning the pen around. Almonte seems to have found his command and only given up three runs in hit last seven innings, a major improvement for someone who’s had a double digit ERA for most of the season.

As Justin Wick wrote about recently, Chacín has been a versatile stabilizer who currently might be their most dependable arm in the bullpen. He began the year as an innings eater but has worked his way up to being Bud Black’s go-to reliever with the lead in mid-to-late innings. He’s been really long before the deadline as he’s allowed just four runs since mid-June.

Estévez on the other hand was hiking up his ERA right up until that deadline. Since then, he’s been lights out with eight shutout innings and counting.

The guys who hit the ball…

Have almost ALL been hitting it better. Now the big purple triceratops in the room (I’m looking at you Dinger with a D, please enunciate the D!) is that anything resembling a productive offense has not yet translated to the road. I broke down the recent offensive road numbers last week but this week it’ll be a wider view of the offense with an understanding that it just doesn’t fully happen on the road.

With that said, the Rockies have been playing above their season averages since July 30th, slashing .283/.350/.494. That’s among the best offenses in baseball during that span. What’s been even better for the Rockies has been the reemergence of the home run. They’ve homered 37 times in their last 21 games including seven from a serious August Player of the Month candidate, C.J. Cron. For reference, that’s nearly a third (27.4 %) of the total home runs this season in just over three weeks.

Speaking of Cron, he’s been one of the hottest players in the sport since the deadline with a WRC+ of 205. Since then, he’s also hitting .377 and getting on base .463 percent of the time. That’s the second best rate to only Juan Soto’s video game-like .558 OBP.

Quietly not too far behind them and hovering near .400 OBP is Trevor Story and Brendan Rodgers. Story specifically could be the biggest benefactor of having the trade deadline behind him going from a line of .240/.312/.429 before to .323/.421/.631 after.

There’s so many players worth mentioning that have been playing well these last few weeks that it just doesn’t fit here. Like Elias Díaz with an OPS of 1.021 and a K% of just 11.5%, second lowest of all major league catchers since July 30th. Eight total Rockies have an OPS over .800, five of them have BABIP’s near .400. We haven’t even mentioned Connor Joe who’s hit six home runs at the top of the order.

Everyone is rolling.

Whether it’s the weight of the deadline off their shoulders or more specifically the freedom from the Trevor Story deadline distraction, the Colorado Rockies are playing well and are fun to watch. Now they just have to find a way to do it on the road.

★ ★ ★

Rockies’ Jon Gray on desire to stay in Colorado long-term: “We are a lot closer than people think we are” | The Denver Post ($)

Jon Gray is continuing to go public with his wish that he remain a member of the Colorado Rockies after this season. He may get his wish soon as several outlets have reported that he and the Rockies have begun “preliminary talks” about a contract extension. According to The Denver Post, sources have also stated that it would be likely that Gray would receive a four year deal. With all the injuries and inconsistencies Jon Gray has had in Colorado, would he be worth the big commitment?

How Lucas Gilbreath has quietly become a great reliever for the Rockies | Rox Pile

Not mentioned in my above piece but definitely worth noting is the quiet emergence of Lucas Gilbreath as a reliable left handed reliever. Since returning to the majors in early June, the 25-year-old is posting a 3.44 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and allowed just one home run in 18 ⅓ innings. If he can finish the year strong, he looks to be a solid bullpen piece moving forward.

Hampson, young Rox learning while in bigs | MLB.com

Garrett Hampson has bounced back nicely in the last half week. He hit home runs on back-to-back days which made a lot of noise deservedly so but he also had a three hit day just before the two bombs. The average for him on the season probably isn’t where he wants it but we all know there’s more there and he remains a valuable part of the young core with his versatility (including third base), speed and outfield defense. He easily might be the Rockies best defensive outfielder.

On the farm

Triple-A: Las Vegas Aviators 13, Albuquerque Isotopes 11

In scorching Las Vegas, the Isotopes were walked off by the Aviators in the tenth inning. The Isotopes did score twice in the top of the tenth but Khris Davis (yes, the former A’s DH) hit a walk-off three run homer to send everyone home in the bottom of the tenth. Outfielder Wynton Bernard had himself a four hit day that included a home run and a double. First baseman Greg Bird also went deep as part of his 2-for-4 night. Ashton Goudeau made the start but lasted just two innings as he gave up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk. Justin Lawrence was charged with the blown save in the tenth, his third of the season.

Double-A: New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Hartford Yard Goats (Cancelled)

High-A: Game 1, Spokane Indians 8, Hillsboro Hops 6

Game one of the Sunday doubleheader saw Ezequiel Tovar go 3-for-3 with a home run and five RBI’s. Jack Blomgren also had a nice day going 3-for-5. Peter Lamber made his second start of the season but went just 23 of an inning as he gave up three runs on two hits and four walks.

Game 2, Spokane Indians 9, Hillsboro Hops 2

Game two was much more under control by the starter Noah Davis who threw a complete 7-inning game. Daniel Montano continues to impress with a 2-for-3 game including two RBI’s and a walk. He now has an OPS of .798 through 100 ABs at Spokane.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 5, Visalia Rawhide 2

Out west, the Grizzlies pitching staff led by starter Tony Locey allow just one hit and zero earned runs. Locey went seven innings, walked only two and struck out ten. Mateo Gil led the offensive charge with a 2-for-4 day that included a three-run home run and a double.

★ ★ ★

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