En route to their strong start in 2022, the Rockies have done a good job making contact and stringing together quality at-bats. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but it’s been promising up and down the lineup. However, although the majority of the lineup is enjoying success, one player having an unexpectedly rough start is Brendan Rodgers. The Rockies' second-basemen is expected to be a key contributor in the heart of the lineup after a strong 2021 campaign in which he batted .284/.328/.470 with 15 home runs. Rodgers is struggling mightily at the plate, but what is giving him the most trouble?
Strikeouts, the answer is strikeouts.
Through seven games this season, BRod has become KRod in a worrying display of plate discipline. In 31 plate appearances, Rodgers is 3 for 27 with 11 strikeouts and just three walks, while his disappointing slash line of .111/.194/.111 isn’t any reason to push the panic button quite yet in these opening weeks, his strikeout rate of 36.7% is something to be concerned about.
The overabundance of punchouts is a clear indication that Rodgers does not have a quality approach at the plate right now. Rodgers is swinging over 50% of the time, that’s good. He’s swinging at 38% of pitches outside of the zone, that’s bad. He’s making contact 65% of the time on swings overall, that’s good. Yet, 17% of his swings are swinging strikes and 11% are called strikes, which is bad.
Rodgers has had plenty of success making contact on pitches outside of the zone in the past, averaging about 60% in each of the last three seasons, but he is at 53% in 2022. He’s seeing the same percentage of pitches inside the zone, but his contact rates across the board are down and it’s showing that the league is making an adjustment to him so far that his making it difficult for him to get the bat to the ball and drive it for base hits.
Baseball-Reference shows that Rodgers is seeing roughly 4.44 pitches per plate appearance. That fits in his norm, but of his 11 strikeouts, nine of them have been swinging strikeouts. Despite seeing the same number of pitches, he is swinging more and coming up empty more often.
So far, Rodgers is seeing more sliders and cutters than he is fastballs and curveballs, which could be a difficult adjustment in the early goings. As a result, he is having trouble making contact, and the pitch sequencing from opposing pitchers is enough that it’s keeping Rodgers off balance and he is swinging out of desperate guessing as opposed to a calculated plan of attack. Yes, it’s not feasible to have a perfect plan each time you go to the plate to know what the pitcher will throw, but you need to have an idea of what to look for and Rodgers has not shown that approach yet.
So what can Rodgers do to turn things around? Well, the immediate thing he can do is to become a bit more selective and decisive at the plate. That means cutting down on the free-swinging and improving his pitch recognition. His contact on pitches inside the zone is adequate enough that the results will follow if he puts the ball in play more than he currently does. An increase in discipline naturally lends itself to an increased walk rate which is something the Rockies continue to need.
2021 was a proving year for Brendan Rodgers, but in his second full season as a healthy starter, his bat will need to live up to the expectations that the Rockies need it to be. If that means pushing him down in the lineup to take the pressure off him, it may be something they need to consider. Regardless, the Rockies need Rodgers’ bat, and he needs to prove that 2021 was not a fluke.
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Alan Trejo made some immediate impacts in his first two starts of the season, including a key home run in Friday’s victory over the Cubs. Rockies Magazine caught up with Trejo to discuss his journey and goals to establish himself at the big league level. As someone who likely made the 2022 roster due to the expanded rosters, Trejo is making the most of his opportunities to make decisions difficult for the club in the coming weeks.
With Jackie Robinson Day still fresh in our minds, Thomas Harding caught up with Rockies prospect AJ Lewis about his journey through the minors system and desire to become an inspirational figure as he aims to become the first at least semi-regular Black North American catcher since Russell Martin in 2019.
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On the Farm
The bats came alive for Albuquerque as they threw out 11 hits en route to a 10-3 victory over Tacoma. Bret Boswell led the way with three runs while Sean Bouchard blasted a grand slam for his first home run of the season. Ryan Feltner started on the hill for the Isotopes and took home the victory, allowing three runs on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in 5 1⁄3 innings of work. The bullpen combined to allow just two hits in 3 2⁄3 innings of work to close out the game while striking out five batters.
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Postponed to April 17th
Despite taking the loss, Joe Rock impressed once again allowing three runs, two earned, on two hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in five innings of work in a 3-1 loss to Eugene in Game 1 of the doubleheader. Spokane managed just a single hit in the game courtesy of an RBI single from Drew Romo in the third inning. Eugene struck for two runs on a home run by Armani Smith in the first inning while tacking on an unearned run in the second.
In this makeup game from April 12th, Will Ethridge worked 4 2⁄3 innings allowing four runs on six hits and took the loss against the Eugene Emeralds in Game 2 Saturday night. Spokane again struggled at the plate, scoring two runs on just three hits while striking out 12 times. Zac Veen, Ronaiker Palma, and Eddy Diaz combined for Spokane’s three hits with Veen and Diaz driving in the runs. Pitching remained strong, but the the offense had a rough day between both games against Eugene.
A ninth-inning rally by the Grizzlies fell just short as they dropped the game 8-7 to San Jose. Adael Amador led the charge offensively for Fresno, tallying two hits, including a solo home run, as well as drawing three walks in the game. Benny Montgomery also added a pair of hits and drove in a run. Victor Juarez started on the hill for Fresno, allowing three runs on three hits in 4 2⁄3 innings while striking out seven batters. Tyler Ras took the loss in the game, allowing three runs in the fifth without recording an out. That six-run fifth inning put the Giants in front and the two runs in the eighth allowed by Ever Moya became the deciding factors.
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