Having an epiphany that inspires change is an essential part of any good hero’s journey. For Bilbo Baggins, it was finding his courage. For Peter Parker, it was learning that with great power comes great responsibility. For Tom Cruise, it was learning that he can run away at a full sprint in every single Mission: Impossible film.
For the Rockies, it needs to be learning what they are doing isn’t working.
Like many fans, I’ve been frustrated at the efforts of the team over the years, especially in the wake of yet another uneventful trade deadline, mired in yet another losing season, and the stubborn insistence that they are built to compete. I understand that it’s difficult to win a World Series and it’s always important to believe in yourself, but sometimes believing isn’t enough.
An epiphany can only happen if the Rockies are willing to realize they need to change, a lot. Putting on purple-tinted glasses and pretending everything is okay is not the way to run a baseball team. The team has a tendency to put up a lot of smoke and mirrors to dilute and distract from the fact that things are not well at 20th and Blake.
A hitting epiphany
For several months, we have heard the team celebrate the fact they have one of the highest team batting averages in all of baseball. A .262 AVG is pretty nice but in today’s modern game of baseball, we know that batting average is a fairly shallow stat to use when evaluating overall offensive performance. It’s great to put the ball in play, but the Rockies are one of the worst teams in terms of how they put the ball in play.
The Rockies are tied for second in ground ball rate at 45.9% with the Washington Nationals, just behind the Chicago Cubs. We are also aware that the team doesn’t hit as many home runs as they used to in the past. Currently, the team has a 9.9% HR/FB ratio which is expounded more when you realize the team only has a 6.1% barrel rate, 36.5% hard-hit rate, and the third-lowest average launch angle at 10.2 degrees.
They have made great strides to cut down on strikeouts, but the team hasn’t been doing enough to generate a powerful offense. Sure, you can simply say the team has underperformed, but what are they doing as a front office and coaching staff to address that underperformance? You could shrug your shoulders and blame the Coors Effect for poor road numbers, but why is your everyday shortstop the only one pushing for an average over .350 to break a franchise record? There are cracks in the narrative, that seem like simple solutions to address.
Ryan Spilborghs shared an interesting stat the other day that when the Rockies score three or fewer runs they are 8-37, and when they score four or more runs they are 38-21. With a meager 91 wRC+, the team needs to pour whatever resources are necessary to revamp their offensive approach and become a feared lineup again that can rival the likes of the Dodgers.
A pitching epiphany
On the other side of things, the Rockies appear to have become stagnant in the pitching department. For several years now they have struggled to put together a consistent well performing bullpen, and while the rotation has carried the team, it has also experienced a fair share of ups and downs. 2022 has seen these two things compound into one of the roughest overall pitching seasons in a couple of years. We’ve seen all five regular starters go through rough patches, and some good patches, but with more turnover in the rotation, especially the fifth spot, than we’ve seen in a while.
There have been strong performances out of a couple of bullpen pieces, but the problem overall for the team is that they still tally enough strikeouts to offset the number of walks they issue. It’s fine that the team is more prone to pitch to contact and induce ground balls, but an inability to shut the door without getting into trouble is worrisome. Especially when that inability leads to an implosion that costs the team the victory.
We’ve seen a trend where it appears the Rockies have tried to turn every pitcher into the same cookie cutter template. We’ve seen reports about how the Rockies don’t utilize the same resources that the majority of teams use to help develop their pitchers and enhance their natural inclinations and talents. Instead, they tinker and it eventually regresses the effectiveness of the pitcher. They can’t hide behind the mantra of “it’s tough to pitch at altitude” and must also pour resources into solving the challenges of pitching a mile above sea level. Sitting on their hands about everything isn’t going to make things better.
They want to be here
The reason I love Goku from DragonBall Z is that he is never satisfied with his improvement. He’s always looking for ways to improve and become a stronger fighter so that he can protect his friends and family. If he gets beat by an opponent, he realizes he needs to change his approach and in doing so he eventually unlocks a new level of power to win the day. He believes in himself, and chooses to then act on that belief.
It’s good that the Rockies believe in themselves, but until they realize they have to give it their all to improve and become the winning team they believe they are, things aren’t going to change. An epiphany needs to come in some way, shape, or form, to help them realize they are underneath their potential.
Until then, they’ll never reach the treasure at the end of the hero’s journey.
★ ★ ★
The Rockies already claimed one player that was designated for assignment this week, and our pal Noah Youngling at Rox Pile thinks the Rockies should take a chance with another player. Franmil Reyes was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Guardians this week as well, and while he has struggled this year, his bat has some intriguing potential that the team could snag for cheap and see what happens, just like they are doing with Dinelson Lamet.
While the Rockies play out their series in Arizona, another conversation popped up about the need for the team to do more with their history. The D-Backs have their own legend race each home game, and it’s something the Rockies could easily replicate. For years they did the Tooth Trot thing, but that has been done away with. It’d be a simple fun thing for the team that would at least be entertaining each night.
★ ★ ★
On The Farm
Albuquerque managed just two runs on seven hits in their loss to El Paso on Saturday. Karl Kauffman gave up seven runs in 4 2⁄3 innings of work, with most of the damage coming in the second and fourth innings. Wynton Bernard turned in another two-hit night along with Sean Bouchard and Alan Trejo, all of whom had a double. The Isotopes did end up striking out 11 times on the night.
The Hartford Yard Goats lost a close one as they left the tying run at second to cut their ninth-inning rally short. Mike Ruff tossed six solid innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while recording the loss in his first start in Hartford. The Yard Goats scored all their runs thanks to four home runs in the game. Brenton Doyle slugged two home runs, while Kyle Datres and Michael Toglia both hit a home run.
Spokane’s entire lineup produced at least one hit as they scored six runs on 11 hits during their victory over Eugene. In his first start with Spokane, Case Williams allowed just two runs (one earned) over five innings of work while wracking up nine strikeouts and not issuing any walks. Hunter Goodman and Colin Simpson both had two-hit nights and Bladimir Restituyo drove in three runs to help lead the charge.
It was a back and forth affair in Fresno, but the Grizzlies turned in a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead and ultimately win the game. Four Grizzlies had multi-hit nights, including Adael Amador who hit his 13th homer of the season. Yanquiel Fernandez drove in three runs and also hit his 13th home run of the season. On the mound, McCade battled through five innings, giving up five runs on seven hits while striking out six.
★ ★ ★
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