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Recently, and thankfully, most of the talk about the Colorado Rockies has been positive. The offense is rolling, and the Rox were 7-3 in their last 10 coming into last night’s game, including a 3-1 record against their biggest division rivals, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. In that way, yesterday’s game was a momentum killer, and a letdown. We also needed it though, because it’s important to remember that the Rockies are not an elite baseball team, and that they’ll have their ups and downs throughout the season.
The most discouraging thing about the 6-3 loss to the Dodgers was undoubtedly the performance by starting pitcher Juan Nicasio, who had his third poor start in his last four. If you remember, Nicasio had everything working (including his slider) in his first start of the season, a seven inning, four hit masterpiece. Since then, he’s made it more than five innings just once, and has just one quality start since. Unfortunately, he looks very much like the pitcher he was last year, when he had a 5.14 ERA. If that’s who Juan Nicasio is, he’s a valuable stopgap, because a 5.14 ERA at Coors sounds pretty bad but is actually respectable for a fifth starter. With that being said, Nicasio doesn’t pitch deep into games and is one of the reasons that the bullpen was stretched last season and looks on its way to being stretched again. With the way Jordan Lyles and Franklin Morales have been pitching recently (!), Juan Nicasio has to be the lead candidate for demotion when Jhoulys Chacin is ready to return. Lyles is safe, and Morales could pitch in middle relief, but Juan Nicasio is in trouble.
In relief of Nicasio, Tommy Kahnle was vital in stopping the bleeding again. Could Kahnle be the difference for the bullpen this year? Mostly in middle relief, he has great stuff and a 1.38 ERA through 13 innings. Chris Martin made his season and career debut. He made his inning interesting with a hit and walk allowed, but got through without allowing a run.
This game was notable also because Nolan Arenado drew not just one walk but two. The fielding wizard tripled his season walk total in one game, and now has a grand total of three walks. That’s a good sign, and Arenado also extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Justin Morneau also drove in his 19th run, as the surprising free agent signing is now third in the NL in RBI. Many people didn’t like the Morneau signing, but I’m happy to report that I wasn’t one of them.
In the eighth inning, the Rockies had a real shot at coming back. I really thought it was going to happen. Down 5-2 and with Chris Withrow on the mound, the Rockies loaded the bases with one out on three walks. Next up were Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. And…. Withrow struck them both out. Surprising, but it happens. On to the next one.
The 13-12 Rockies are back at it this afternoon as they look to win the series over the Dodgers. Jorge De La Rosa will look to continue to build on his recent good starts against tough lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.