It’s fair to say that, heading into this season, confidence was higher in the Rockies’ starting pitching than it had been in some time, and maybe ever. Pitching has always been this team’s Achilles heel. Part of it has to do with the hostile-to-pitchers altitude. The front office is also probably at fault, as many free agent signings, trade acquisitions, and draftees have failed to be successful pitchers for the Colorado Rockies. And by “successful pitchers,” I don’t have the highest of expectations. I know the park is terrible for pitchers, and I know we won’t get a Clayton Kershaw or a Felix Hernandez anytime soon.
What I do hope for is a pitcher who can provide quality innings, much like Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin have done for some of their Rockies career. And I, along with other fans/analysts, thought this might be the best year Rockies pitchers have ever had. Well, following another loss, this one 13-10 and at home, it’s safe to say that the pitching is still this team’s downfall, and that it has been a disappointment this season. Part of it has been due to an obscene number of injuries, but the lack of depth and quality in the rotation and bullpen has been apparent.
Yesterday, the Rockies allowed 19 hits and 13 runs while averaging more than 20 pitches per inning. It wasn’t pretty. Christian Bergman started and promptly wiped away any hope that his first start, in which he actually threw some good innings, was legitimate. To say that Bergman was hit hard is an understatement. He gave up nine hits, three of which were homers (including two to Jean Segura, of all people) and three of which were doubles. He gave up seven runs and was lucky to get out of the third inning. Hey, on the positive side, he threw strikes! After Eddie Butler had the same problem in his lone start (the problem being throwing the ball down the middle each pitch), this question begs asking: are the Rockies developing their pitchers in the ideal way and setting them up for success?
Anyway, as you would expect, the bullpen didn’t stop the bleeding. Even Tommy Kahnle, who’s been the best reliever on this team all year, was far from at his best. Kahnle labored through two innings, throwing an ungodly 53 pitches, walking three, and escaping with a single run allowed. In what was then an 8-6 game, Chris Martin came in and gave up five hits and three runs, putting the game further out of reach. It would have been nice to at least see three quiet innings to close the game, but these are the Rockies, and quiet innings aren’t allowed. Sure enough, Matt Belisle and Adam Ottavino each allowed a run. In the end, the Rockies allowed runs in seven innings, with Kahnle and Rex Brothers the only pitchers to throw scoreless innings. It’s tough to win that way.
And yet, the Rockies nearly did win. The meat of the lineup powered them to 16 hits and 10 runs. The prestigious outfield of Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon, and Brandon Barnes went a combined seven for 15 with homers by Dickerson and Barnes, five runs scored, and five RBI. Troy Tulowitzki continued to go beast mode, and Justin Morneau hit a three run homer that seemed very important at the time, putting the Rockies up 6-4 in the bottom of the second.
Had Josh Rutledge, who was 0-5 total and 0-2 with runners in scoring position, picked up another couple of key hits, the Rockies might have won the game. But that was too much to ask for, and the game ended 13-10. The difference, of course, was not the poor game by Rutledge but the Brewers’ bullpen, which gave up three runs but was less bad than the Rockies’ and shut them down in the eighth and ninth innings.
It seems like this sort of result happens often to the Rockies, because of their still-suspect pitching. And it’s happening again; as I post this, they trail 9-2 in the sixth inning. In the end, the pitching, which was supposed to be improved this season, was again the downfall in another Colorado Rockies loss.