On Sunday afternoon in the Windy City, the Colorado Rockies were swept by the Chicago Cubs. The loss was their 99th of the season, cementing a new franchise record for losses with seven games remaining in the 2023 season. For reaching the century mark in losses it appears to be no longer a matter of if, but when.
The Rockies’s remaining seven games will all come at home via two series against teams that have cemented victories in their divisions: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins. While it’s possible the Rockies may hammer out a win or two over this stretch, the most likely scenario is that their 100th loss will come against the dreaded Dodgers tomorrow afternoon. At 1:10 PM on a Tuesday for the first half of a double-header it’s unlikely the stands will be particularly full, which is fitting for such an inauspicious landmark.
How did we get here? The last four seasons certainly haven’t been fun, but only the 2022 season came close to cracking the top five worst seasons in franchise history. Not since the 2012 season 11 years ago have the Rockies been this painfully bad, and record-wise the Rockies could further surpass their previous low mark of 98 losses. Should the Rockies fail to win a single game, they will finish the 2023 season with a record of 56-106.
Colorado Rockies Seasons - Most Losses
Colorado Rockies - Records Since 2017
The likely excuse to be rolled out by the front office is the injuries, especially to the starting rotation. The Rockies lost Germán Márquez at the end of April to Tommy John surgery after making just four starts. Antonio Senzatela returned from his ACL tear in May only to make two starts before needing Tommy John surgery himself. Ryan Feltner missed most of the season after taking a comebacker line drive to the head that resulted in a skull fracture and a ruptured ear drum. Kyle Freeland had multiple stints on the IL before being shut down for the season with an injury recently and the once stalwart Austin Gomber was shut down with back issues after making 27 consecutive starts. The only member of the Rockies’ Opening Day rotation to not go down due to injury was José Ureña... and he was designated for assignment in late April after a miserable start.
However, this excuse doesn’t hold a lot of water on its own. Plenty of big league teams struggle with injuries in their rotation or lose starting pitchers for other reasons. For example, the 95-win Los Angeles Dodgers have utilized 17 starting pitchers this season compared to the Rockies’ 16. The Texas Rangers lost Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Nathan Eovaldi for extended periods of time, and the Tampa Bay Rays have also used 16 starting pitchers this season. The key difference is depth. The Rockies simply never had the starting pitching depth to cope with injuries and the front office failed to address that situation.
The Rockies have also severely under-performed at the plate during Hensley “Bam Bam” Muelen’s first season as the team’s hitting coach. The 2023 Rockies are currently holding franchise-worst marks in batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. They have the fewest RBI and total runs as a team in any non-shortened season and the second-fewest home runs. They also have the second-most strikeouts in a season as a franchise. They also couldn’t keep up sustained offensive pressure. So far this season the Rockies have lost 52 games in which they held the lead at some point. Simply put, the Rockies have not brought the offensive fireworks for their 30th Anniversary celebrations.
Much like the previous-worst season in 2012, there are positives from the 2023 campaign. After desperate pleading, the Rockies have finally let the kids take over. Nolan Jones and Ezequiel Tovar have been revelations in the lineup. Brenton Doyle is turning in the single-best defensive season for a Rockies outfielder in franchise history with 17 defensive runs saved and counting. Elehuris Montero has found more of his swing with consistent playing time, and Hunter Goodman made his big league debut after a scorching hot journey as a prospect.
Unfortunately, the bright spots will still be overshadowed by the miserable trudge to the finish line and the ultimate end result. You don’t often hear people talk about what a good season Chris Nelson or Tyler Colvin had in 2012, you just know it was previously the low water mark for this franchise.
There is nothing to be done except hope it will be the much needed wake-up call for Dick Monfort and his front office. Whether it will be has yet to be seen as we approach an offseason full of unknowns. Fans don’t even know where they will be able to watch the 2024 Rockies on TV with AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain ceasing operations at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Denver sports fans will see a familiar sight: as the Rockies season winds down, their neighbors at Ball Arena are preparing to hoist a banner.
Tomorrow it’s very likely the new low water mark will be set. It is inevitable and I suggest that the Rockies faithful are prepared.
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Saturday marked the one year anniversary of Ezequiel Tovar’s big league debut. While the 21-year old shortstop is unlikely to take the title of National League Rookie of the Year from Arizona’s Corbin Carroll, the Rockies new every-day shortstop has been excellent.
“I remember that day like it was yesterday,” Tovar said through Rockies bullpen catcher and interpreter Aaron Muñoz. “Thank God that I’m still here, and that I get to experience this.”
After long road, Rodgers finding home run swing | MLB.com
After 35 games, 143 plate appearances, and 141 at-bats, Brendan Rodgers has his first home run of the 2023 season. The Gold Glove second baseman has been working to find his power stroke since his surprising early return from injury at the end of July. For Rodgers, staying healthy and having a consistent bat will be critical for next season.
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Pebble Report: September 18-24, 2023
With only the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes left with games to play last week, the big news was the announcement of the rosters for the upcoming Arizona Fall League. The Rockies will once again be sending delegates to the Salt River Rafters alongside the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Rockies are sending eight players to Arizona: three position players and five pitchers. High-A Spokane Indians hitting coach Zach Osborne and Arizona Complex League Rockies assistant physical trainer Maranda Briney will be joining the Rockies contingency as members of the coaching and support staffs.
The marquee player of the Rockies position delegation is catching prospect Drew Romo (no. 6 PuRP). The Rockies’ catcher of the future had a tough start to the season but found his footing and was eventually promoted to Triple-A. He will be joined by third baseman and outfielder Sterlin Thompson (no. 7 PuRP) and center fielder Benny Montgomery (no. 8 PuRP).
For the pitching delegation the two big names are Chris McMahon (no. 28 PuRP) and Jaden Hill (no. 13 PuRP). Both pitchers had light workloads in 2023 due to injury. McMahon was shut down in mid-July, and the Rockies were already treating Hill with an abundance of caution in his first professional season before shutting him down in early August. Case Williams (no. 30 PuRP) will be with the Rafters as well after making 23 starts for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats this season.
The Low-A and High-A affiliates also announced postseason All-Stars and award winners, many of whom were part of the Rockies organization. You can see a full breakdown here.
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (3-3, 68-82 Overall)
The Isotopes finished out their 2023 season with a set against the Oklahoma City Dodgers. The ‘Topes entered the week still fighting for a playoff spot, but were essentially eliminated on Tuesday the 19th with a 4-8 loss. They lost their first three games in the set, but rebounded to win their last three games. The highlight of the week came on Friday the 22nd when the Isotopes pitched their first nine-inning shutout at home since April 2019. Tanner Gordon pitched seven innings while only giving up two walks and two hits and striking out an excellent eight batters. Riley Pint struck out three batters and walked one.
Position players Drew Romo, Braxton Fulford and Kyle Datres made their Triple-A debuts to finish out the season, as did pitchers Austin Kitchen and Joe Rock. Romo went 6-for-17 at the plate with a double, a triple, and three RsBI.
How the 2023 season concluded. We have now won six consecutive home finales. There is nothing better than going out as a winner! pic.twitter.com/qfX7fg5xl5— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) September 24, 2023
The fans also came out in droves all year to support the Isotopes. The team announced following the conclusion of their season that they tallied a total attendance of 521,521 for the highest mark in the PCL and fifth best across all of Minor League Baseball. Congratulations to the Isotopes for their attendance and a hard-fought season now in the books.
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Arizona Fall League: Begins Monday, October 2nd. Salt River Rafters vs Glendale Scorpions.
Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes: Season concluded.
Double-A Hartford Yard Goats: Season concluded.
High-A Spokane Indians: Season concluded.
Low-A Fresno Grizzlies: Season concluded.
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