The Colorado Rockies have dropped three consecutive games to National League West opponents. At the start of a nine-game road trip against three division foes, some are calling these games “must win” for the Rockies. We’re not even at the end of June yet so it’s hard to feel these games are “must win.” They are, however, “must compete” games for the Rockies.
Over the last three days, the Rockies have been outscored by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers by a 32-9 margin. They’ve not only been clubbed by those teams, but they’ve also been clubbed by the two teams who they’re chasing for the NL West lead. Now 2.5 games behind the streaking Dodgers (who have won nine of their last 10 games), the Rockies have seen their view from the mountaintop of the division slip away in the last 72 hours.
The losses have caused some Rockies fans to wonder if this is a sign of things to come. Were the previous 73 games just an illusion and these last three games are who the real Rockies are? Hardly.
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Colorado has staked its success so far this season on rookie pitching. Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman have shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season. Does that mean the last three starts are who they really are? Hardly.
Rockies fans, this team is going to be just fine. The first 73 games of the season were anything but a mirage. This is a squad that has rebounded from a brutal series at home against the Washington Nationals as well as a tough stretch against the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres at the end of May/start of June.
Yet because the losses have come against Arizona and the Dodgers, there is more of a cause for concern. It’s understandable, but it’s also an overreaction.
This is a team that doesn’t have to win the next two games at Chavez Ravine. They do, however, need to compete and show who they are, not who people think they are at the moment. A team led by Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and a dynamic offense will rediscover their bats again. Tyler Anderson is already back in the rotation and Jon Gray isn’t far away from returning. This is a team that is getting stronger.
Absolutely, the Rockies have a tall task on Saturday night against Clayton Kershaw. And let’s not forget that Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts has already been playing mind games about Kershaw’s outing … even before it happened.
Whatever happens at Dodger Stadium, there is still plenty of baseball to play this season. We’re not even at the halfway point yet. If we’d told you the Rockies had the second-most wins in the National League on June 24, would you have taken that when the season began? If we had told you on June 24 that the Rockies would be 8.5 games ahead in the chase for a playoff spot, would you have been OK with that? Our guess is yes.
Don’t lose sight of the end goal because of some short-term speed bumps. This is a team that is going to be competing for the division title until the very end of the season. They just need to find their way again. They did after the Nationals series. They did after the start of June. They will again here as well.
Oh and hey, don’t forget this is a team that didn’t give up in back-to-back late-inning wins against the Giants less than a week ago. It’s amazing how quickly we forget how good things are for the boys in purple pinstripes.
Compete. Flex some offensive muscles. Remind the National League of the talent at the front and back end of the pitching lineup. Do that and the memories of this slip-up will be just as fleeting as the ones the Rockies have already endured this season.