One day and one win in Arizona removed from this weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, here are some thoughts and reflections on the Colorado Rockies and their series win in Dodgers Stadium.
It has to start somewhere
Despite roster turnover, a new manager, and a number of new hitting coaches, the Rockies seem to run into the same old problems when they play baseball on the road, season after season. They simply do not hit, unable to manufacture runs or give themselves a chance in games in which their pitching staff allows any more than a couple runs. Whether by rollover ground balls, fly balls to the warning track, or by a string of strikeouts, the Rockies have lost enough 2-1 games on the road to make any Rockies fan crazy.
What will it take to break out of those habits and flex some offensive muscle on the road? Will they ever be able to sustain good road production over the course of an entire season? Mechanically the answers to their woes overlap with best practices at the plate more generally: put the ball in play, use the big part of the field, move the runners along, etc. But for the Rockies it feels like a bigger issue than that because of the power of the narrative (based in facts, unfortunately) that this team cannot and will not ever win away from Coors Field.
There is no quick fix; I would like to think that, if there was, somebody would have found it by now. It will likely be a matter of a longer process, one in which better approaches at the plate are propped up by the confidence of getting a key win here and a key win there. Winning two games in L.A. the way they did, in particular with an impressive extra innings rally Friday night, got this team a couple of those wins.
While we would like to see the lineup post six runs a game on the road, improved run prevention sure helps the team have a chance to steal more of those classic nail-biter games when they do happen. The benefits of stingy defense was on display in Los Angeles, as a number of great plays kept Friday’s game 2-2 to set up the extra innings victory and then held off rallies in the rubber match victory on Sunday.
Between their uber-athletic outfield, the freakish plays of Nolan Arenado and Troy Tulowitzki, and the steady play of DJ LeMahieu and Justin Morneau, the Rockies are playing superb defense. Appropriately, this has gotten attention in recent days. Eric Garcia McKinley and then Jonah Keri both noted the greatness of the Rockies infield defense despite their lack of shifts, while our own Lev Cohen went position by position to look at the strong results thus far.
The Rockies are guaranteed to have fluidity in their starting rotation and their bullpen over the course of the season. Pleasantly enough, they will still have a chance to have a decent pitching staff, and plays like these are no small part of that equation:
The truly deep lineup
For years we have told ourselves that the Rockies have a deep lineup, one that scares opposing pitchers beyond superstars Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. This year we get to see what that looks like when it is actually true. Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Morneau are white hot to start this season. The production from those three creates legitimate intrigue about what this offense might look like when Wilin Rosario and Michael Cuddyer get healthy.
So far this team has been able to win when CarGo and Tulo are not dialed in. They have the potential, then, to seriously bludgeon people when one or both of those stars get hot. And hopefully, hopefully, hopefully that means we will see fewer no-show-games away from Coors Field.
Things looked good this past weekend in Los Angeles, and it was a beautiful sight indeed.
Tags: Colorado Rockies