Why Can’t the Colorado Rockies Beat the Bad Teams?

Aug 24, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Chris Carter (33) scores as the ball gets past Colorado Rockies catcher Tony Wolters (14) in the seventh inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 24, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Chris Carter (33) scores as the ball gets past Colorado Rockies catcher Tony Wolters (14) in the seventh inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Rockies were recently swept by the woeful Philadelphia Phillies, who currently have a 59-68 record. They then won series against the Washington Nationals (74-53) and the Chicago Cubs (81-45). However, they followed these series with another dismal road sweep to the Milwaukee Brewers (56-71). Why can’t they beat the bad teams?

One simple answer is it is a mindset. The Colorado Rockies are still a fringe candidate for the playoffs (as of today they sit 7.5 games out of the second Wild Card). When playing a good team, the motivation is there to play and perform well to show the opposition what you can do.

For example, the Rockies are 2-1 against the Baltimore Orioles, 4-2 against the Chicago Cubs, 6-1 against the New York Mets, 6-7 against the San Francisco Giants and 2-1 against the Nationals this season. All of these teams have winning records.

However, when playing the Phillies and Brewers, whether the Rockies thought they could simply show up and win is an interesting theory. Additionally, the Rockies have season losing records against the Cincinnati Reds (2-5), Brewers (0-3), Phillies (2-5), San Diego Padres (5-7) and Tampa Bay Rays (1-2). Each of these teams have losing records.

The Rockies are have a slash line of .302/.370/.518 at Coors Field. On the road, this slash line drops to .244/.304/.393, which are significant drops in each category. For some reason on the road the Rockies hitters make ordinary pitching staffs look good.

The Phillies have a 4.52 ERA (10th in the NL) and the Brewers have a 4.32 ERA (9th in the NL). Rockies batters totaled 15 and seven runs respectively for the series.

Obviously Coors Field is a hitters park and there is a comfort level there. However going on the road and hitting should not be a house of horrors, especially against the bad teams.

But the team’s best hitters (DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado) are hitting .288, .274 and .258 respectively on the road versus .400, .353 and .314 at home.

Colorado Rockies
Aug 24, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) is greeted by right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s even worse when the Rockies fall behind where it is generally curtains for the result. They are 9-17 in one-run games and 1-3 in extra-inning games.

When the team loses their batting average all take a huge hit. LeMahieu hits .284, Gonzalez is at .274 and Arenado is at .243. In contrast, when the team wins their respective averages are .410, .353 and .331.

Thus, these Rockies hitters are not good enough when on the road and the team loses the game. Unfortunately this fact also carries over against the poor teams, when winning should be easier.

And throw in the fact the Rockies have outscored their opponents by eight runs (667 to 659 runs) for the season but sit at a record of 60-67 (the only team below .500 to achieve this) makes things even worse.

Another culprit is the team’s bullpen who have combined for a woeful 9.00 ERA in August. Just in the last two games, starters Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson each delivered 10 strikeout performances (first time in franchise history in back-to-back games). However, the bullpen melted and turned potential wins into big losses (6-4 and 7-1).

Rockies pitching gave up 23 total runs in the Phillies series, where the Phillies as a team are hitting .256 in the month of August.

The Rockies, for some reason or another, repeatedly come out flat against bad opposition. Whether this is Walt Weiss‘ fault or the players fault is up for debate.

This squad had a real opportunity at the beginning of August to push for a Wild Card spot, and they have responded to this challenge by posting a 8-14 record so far this month with an even split in runs scored and runs against (131-131).

It has been hurt by the loss of key offensive players such as Trevor Story and Mark Reynolds, and they have rung in the rookies lately in David Dahl, Matt Carasiti and today Stephen Cardullo.

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This is a young team where ups and downs are to be expected. But there is still enough veteran leadership on this team to provide the input required to beat the poor teams in the league. This has not happened enough this month, which is a failure in leadership by these players and the manager.

Perhaps a psychologist can explain why the Rockies can’t beat the bad teams. We know for a fact they don’t hit well or pitch well. But to do it time and time again when the second Wild Card is still on offer?

September starts with multiple games against the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks and Padres. These series will tell us a lot if the Rockies have figured out an answer to this question.

Next: Colorado Rockies New Game Show: Rate the Rockies Bullpen!

All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com unless otherwise indicated.