Colorado Rockies Crushed By Chicago: 3 Takes From Saturday

Aug 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting line up of player profiles before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies starting line up of player profiles before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

After the Colorado Rockies dramatic extra-inning walk-off win Friday night against the Chicago Cubs, they were likely hoping to keep the good feelings rolling Saturday. That … didn’t happen.

Chicago led 7-0 in the fifth inning on their way to an eventual 9-2 win. Here are three of the biggest story lines from the blowout.

1) Cubs Hassle Hoffman

One of the Rockies’ top prospects made his MLB debut Saturday night, as Jeff Hoffman took the mound for Colorado. Playing in a big league baseball game for the first time is the realization of a lifelong dream. Hoffman got the chance to live out that experience Saturday night and, for a little while, it went well.

After allowing a lead-off single to Dexter Fowler, Hoffman retired the next eight hitters, including a double play from Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo. Through three innings, Hoffman had faced the minimum and appeared to be in control.

In the fourth inning though, the wheels came off quickly for the young right-hander. Fowler led off with another single, then a wild pick-off attempt at first base let the former Rockies outfielder go from first to third. That was followed by three consecutive hits, and after two outs, a Miguel Montero single doubled Chicago’s lead from 2-0 to 4-0.

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One inning later, a Ryan Raburn error allowed Cubs starter Mike Montgomery to reach first safely. Hoffman followed that with a walk to Fowler before the big blow: a 469-foot moonshot to dead center off the bat of Kris Bryant.

Hoffman, as you likely already know, was the crown jewel of last season’s Troy Tulowitzki deal. For that reason, the pressure on him will likely be immense. It’s important to remember that his peak is probably still a ways off though.

Hoffman is only 23 years old, and he missed a crucial year of his development when he had Tommy John surgery back in 2014. With under 230 total innings in his pro career thus far, Hoffman has a lot to learn. The way things got away from him in the middle innings Saturday showed it.

That being said, Hoffman also showed a lot of potential as well. Outside of Fowler, who seemed to have his number for whatever reason, the Cubs struggled to pick up Hoffman in the earlier innings. His fastball was not just showing strong velocity, but the placement was also excellent at times as well.

The numbers certainly won’t wow anyone, but Hoffman showed flashes of the potential the Rockies were looking for when they acquired him.

2) The Black Hole At First Base

Mark Reynolds is not going to make anyone forget about Todd Helton’s glory years, but his injury has still been a massive blow to the Rockies offense. Colorado has been forced to mix and match in search of a solution, with limited success.

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Saturday night, the answer was Raburn … and once again it was mostly unsuccessful. Raburn has only has five starts at first base in his MLB career, and he unsurprisingly looked uncomfortable there tonight. Hoffman’s errant pick-off throw was certainly low, but it was a throw that you would expect a MLB first baseman to at least knock down more often than not.

The stark truth is that with Reynolds out, Colorado is probably just going to have to live with getting below-average work from first base.

The case for calling up Jordan Patterson remains as strong as ever, but Colorado seems content to let him spend the entire season in Triple-A. That means they’re stuck using the backups that are overwhelmed trying to fill the offensive shoes of a position like first base.

3) Quiet Night For The Big Bats

The one-through-five spots in Colorado’s lineup had 20 plate appearances Saturday night. The combined damage in those trips to the plate? One hit, three walks and 16 outs.

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Nolan Arenado’s mini-slump continued, and he’s now 0-for-7 in this series. Carlos Gonzalez wasn’t any better, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. Better days are surely in store for both hitters soon. However, Saturday was a reminder that Colorado’s offense can bog down quickly when Arenado and Gonzalez have an off night.