The Colorado Rockies took two out of three games against the Atlanta Braves over the weekend in their inaugural trip to SunTrust Park. That included a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon that highlighted Jon Gray’s continued upswing on the mound as the season has gone along.
With the win, Colorado notched its 71st victory of the season and put pressure on the other teams chasing their Wild Card slot. The win also gave the Rockies their first road series since taking two of three from the Nationals in Washington to end July.
Here are three things that stood out from the series in Atlanta.
Gray is heating up at the right time
Colorado’s top pitcher has lived up to his billing this month, going 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in August after throwing six shutout innings in Sunday’s win.
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As we mentioned in this article, Sunday’s start was just the 14th of the season for Gray, who missed an extended period early in the season with a stress fracture in his left foot. The Rockies did just fine in his absence, pushing themselves into the Wild Card conversation and excellent position for the postseason. Now that he’s back, Gray’s fresh arm can help keep them there.
DJ can hit for power anywhere
All-Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu had his first-ever two-homer game in Colorado’s 7-6 win on Saturday night. His second homer of the night, a solo shot in the top of the ninth, proved to be the winning margin.
LeMahieu now has 32 homers during his Major League career, with 16 coming at Coors Field and 16 coming on the road. That puts him in a special class in franchise history. Of the 34 players with at least 30 career home runs for the Rockies, the only others to have hit at least as many on the road as they have at altitude are Garrett Atkins (48 home, 50 road), Ian Stewart (25 home, 29 road) and Jay Payton (18 home, 18 road).
A question mark at the closer position
So what will the Rockies do with Greg Holland? Colorado’s closer gave up a two-run homer in Saturday night’s win and didn’t finish the game. The Rockies needed Jake McGee for a game-ending double play to nail down the victory.
Holland is now 1-4 with a 15.12 ERA in August and has blown three saves in six opportunities. He has walked six while striking out seven and has given up four homers this month in just 8.1 innings pitched. Considering he gave up two homers in the previous 38.1 innings he has thrown this year, it is easy to see that something is off with Colorado’s closer.
Opponents are hitting .359 against Holland this month and it has become painfully obvious that the Holland who racked up 33 saves in 34 chances before August began isn’t the same pitcher.
Don’t forget that Holland cut a finger on his right hand in a kitchen accident at the start of the month. He hasn’t been the same since then. While manager Bud Black and Holland have indicated that’s not a problem that has lingered, the timing certainly seems like more than a coincidence.
The big question becomes what will the Rockies do this week when they return home to Denver to start a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. Will Holland remain as the closer? Will McGee move into the role? Will the Rockies have a closer by committee than could include Mike Dunn as well?
We may have gotten a sneak peek on Sunday when McGee was called upon to finish off the 3-0 victory and did it with a spotless ninth inning to record his second save in two nights (and third of the season).