Colorado Rockies: 3 Random Thoughts on a Saturday
By Kevin Henry
As the Colorado Rockies move deeper and deeper into the month of August, it’s clear that the slim Wild Card hopes the team held when the month began have all but vanished.
After Friday night’s 10-6 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in the City of Brotherly Love, the Rockies have now lost five of their last six games and seven of their past nine outings. Now at 56-60, the Rockies are still 4.5 games out of the final Wild Card slot but a scenario where Colorado makes the postseason is seeming more and more unlikely.
Here are three random thoughts on a Saturday morning…
Injuries have come at the worst time for Colorado
Injuries certainly have a lot to do with the Rockies’ recent funk. Season-ending injuries to Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds have sapped half of Colorado’s starting infield and All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez missed another game on Friday night with his ankle injury. Having those three players gone from the lineup would hurt any team, but it’s been an absolutely momentum-sucker for the Rockies.
As Jon Gray’s slider goes, so does he
Gray struggled for the second consecutive start on Friday night in Philadelphia. The 24-year-old right-hander who looked so dominant for so much of the season has been mortal in straight outings against the Miami Marlins and Phillies, surrendering a combined 16 hits and 14 earned runs in eight innings.
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On Friday, Gray struggled early before giving up a grand slam to Ryan Howard that pushed the Phillies toward victory and helped raise Gray’s ERA to 9.69 in August.
The key to Gray’s success early and struggles as of late? Suddenly, his wicked slider isn’t so wicked.
“It makes it tough,” Gray told Thomas Harding of MLB.com after the Philadelphia loss. “The only reason they’re fouling off is I must be doing something on my end that’s allowing them to do it. I’m not throwing the slider as hard as I used to. It doesn’t have the same angle. That’s what I’m looking forward to fix.”
If you combine a May start against St. Louis with his last two starts, those three outings account for 23 of the 62 earned runs Gray has allowed this season. That’s 37 percent of his earned runs on the season.
It’s clear that when Gray’s slider is working, Gray is succeeding. When it’s not, it’s going to be a tough night for the Rockies.
The return of Ben Paulsen
Hey, I’ll admit that I am a fan of Paulsen. I wrote this article about his value to the team back in May after seeing him in action in a series in San Diego. I’ve seen Paulsen develop through Colorado’s minor league system, watching him often during his days with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers.
Paulsen’s main reason for not being on the Rockies roster for so long seems to be that he’s a left-handed batter. Colorado is already loaded with lefties so having Paulsen in there as well hasn’t been in the lineup’s best benefit.
Colorado manager Walt Weiss loves versatility on his team (just look at what Tony Wolters or Daniel Descalso can bring to the table). Paulsen brings that to the Rockies where he can also play outfield if needed. Remember his great catch at the wall when he was asked to play left field?
Next: 4 Takeaways From Friday's Loss in Philly
Paulsen may not be the long-term answer at first base for the Colorado Rockies. However, he’s certainly worthy of a shot the rest of the season. Is an infield of Descalso and Paulsen joining Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu stronger than one with Story and Reynolds? Absolutely not. However, it’s the hand that the Rockies were dealt for the rest of this season.