Rockies Woman Weekly Report – 7/16-7/22


This week’s record: 3-4

Hitting: A-

You wouldn’t know it from looking at their record, but the Rockies had a great week at the plate. They hit .285, which is the best mark in the National League. They scored 47 runs, second only to the Braves, against whom they happened to play a 4-game series this week. They tied with Atlanta for best OPS in the NL (.817). What these numbers tell is it that the Rockies picked a good week to unleash bats comparable to the Braves’. Without them, they might have been swept yet again and finished the week 1-6. The Rockies also pummeled pitchers with 29 extra-base hits, including 7 triples. 3 of those triples were hit by Dexter Fowler, whose return has provided a welcome offensive jolt. He also struck out 9 times this week and continues to lack plate discipline, but when he does swing, he makes quality contact far more often than in his last stint with the big-league club. His swing has especially improved from the left side of the plate, where it was very problematic. Seth Smith (who also contributed 3 triples), Mark Ellis, Todd Helton, and Troy Tulowitzki all hit .300 or above this week. Carlos Gonzalez was having a great offensive week, with 2 home runs and a walk-off single, when his wrist injury flared up on Thursday and he was placed on the disabled list. The team even hit .294 with runners in scoring position, not a perfect mark, but a good one. The Rockies need more offensive weeks like this one.

Running: B+

The Rockies attempted 10 stolen bases this week and were successful 8 times. That is a very good percentage, and 8 is a perfectly acceptable number of steals. Smith and Ian Stewart even pulled off a double steal last night. This put Smith at 3rd where he was able to score on a weak groundout from Ryan Spilborghs. Fowler contributed 2 of those steals but was also caught once. Welcoming him back meant getting his speed once again, but it also meant getting his occasionally unwise baserunning. Last night he was tagged out at 3rd when he tried to advance on a Helton sacrifice fly. Aaron Cook scored on the play and the Diamondbacks chose not to throw home, which Dex failed to notice. He was out by a couple of strides. If the Rockies could curb these baserunning errors they still seem to commit nightly, they would be a formidable running team.

Defense: C

It was a rare tough week in the field for the Rockies, as they committed 7 errors. These ranged from a ball lost in the sun by Helton to a ball that Stewart tried to barehand and couldn’t. And then another one in the same game. There was catcher interference from Eliezer Alfonzo and a poor play at 1st by Juan Nicasio. Helton also made a couple of bad throws home in Sunday’s game against the Brewers, which turned out to be a 1-run loss. Helton is an excellent fielder as we all know, so there’s no cause for alarm here, but his mistakes did cost runs. Fortunately, there were some good defensive moments this week as well. Many of them came courtesy of Tulo, naturally, spinning and throwing like he was born for it. Stewart also recovered after his 2-error game and had a great week at the hot corner. Defense is still not an overall concern for the Rockies, but when it’s not sharp the effect is greater than it might otherwise be if they were playing every other aspect of the game well.

Starting Pitching: C

Aaron Cook picked up his first win this week, which is serious cause for celebration given the struggles he had. He still hasn’t recorded a truly great outing this season, though, and he posted a 5.91 ERA overall for the week in his two starts. He also pitched just 10 2/3 innings, and his inability to go deep in games is proving problematic. Jhoulys Chacin also had a tough week; usually he is fantastic at least every other start, but neither of his outings this week came out well. He earned a no-decision in both cases because his offense fought hard for him, but he pitched 11 innings and allowed 10 runs. He struck out 9 and walked 8. His immaturity comes through in times like this, but he’s still got great stuff, and my money’s on the win for his next start. Jason Hammel’s start against the Braves on Monday didn’t exactly go well either: he lasted 5 innings and allowed 6 runs on 8 his with only 1 strikeout. Hammel has followed a pretty consistent pattern of one good start, one bad start so far this season, so hopefully he can turn it around tonight. Counterbalancing these cringe-worthy starts were two stunning outings by Ubaldo Jimenez and Juan Nicasio. Jimenez pitched Tuesday against Atlanta, and he went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just 2 runs. He also struck out 9. His next start may even push his ERA below 4.00, which is more than Rockies fans were hoping for earlier in the season! Nicasio was even better against the Braves on Wednesday, going 7 innings and allowing 1 run. This was an especially encouraging outing for him because it’s the first time in his young career he’s faced a team again after being pummeled by them the first time around. That he had the confidence and the skill to execute against Atlanta this time is very praiseworthy.

Relief Pitching: C+

The bullpen was just as scattershot as the rotation this week. Some guys were terrible: Matt Reynolds pitched just 1/3 of an inning in Thursday’s game against Atlanta and allowed 3 runs, ultimately earning the loss in the game. Matt Lindstrom also gave up a run in that game, and allowed the tying run to cross the plate on Wednesday in a save situation. He did that on Sunday against Milwaukee as well, which paved the way for Huston Street to come in and give up a 2-run home run that saddled him with the loss. However, each of these guys also pitched perfect innings this week. And other guys were brilliant. Rex Brothers pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed just 1 run while striking out 8. And Rafael Betancourt silenced the haters with his 4 1/3 scoreless innings and 8 K’s.  The pen seemed worse this week than they really are, I think. While it’s true that they took 2 losses and a handful of blown saves, they also pitched very well to tough hitters in some clutch situations.

Intangibles: B-

One great thing about these second-half Colorado Rockies is how hard the offense is working to stay in the game. In the first half it felt like the game was done by the 7th inning, and that whoever was winning by then would win. Now, the Rockies give me the feeling that they could take back the lead at any time. They scored another walk-off victory this week against the Braves, just their second of the year. On the other hand, the life seems to go out of the pitching in the late innings now. It will forever be the great tragedy of the 2011 Rockies that they so rarely had good pitching and good hitting on the same day. All the building blocks are there, but too often one element or the other falls off the stack at the crucial moment. So while I see a lot of promise in the way the Rockies played the game this week, their lack of cohesion is still troubling.

Overall Grade: B-

Hitter of the Week: Dexter Fowler (.360, 6 RBI, 8 R, 2 SB)

Pitcher of the Week: Rafael Betancourt (4 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 8 K’s)