HE’S BACK! Nolan Arenado comes off his five game suspension on Friday just in time for the Colorado Rockies and Chicago Cubs square off in a three-game series in Denver.
When Arenado was out, the Rockies offense relied for most of their production out of two players: DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon. Now that Arenado is back in the lineup, and the Rockies are back home, it is time to kickstart the offense.
Unfortunately, even with Arenado’s return, there is a huge hole in the middle of the lineup. Carlos Gonzalez may be out for a few days nursing his hamstring strain, Gerardo Parra will likely begin serving his suspension, and we all know about Trevor Story and Ian Desmond‘s horrific struggles.
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So what should Colorado manager Bud Black do? Tinker with the lineup.
Earlier this week, Rox Pile’s own Kevin Henry caught up with Black on the Rockies road trip and talked about lineup construction (you can read that article here). Like Black said, “Guys have to hit no matter where they are,” but Black needs to put these players in position to succeed.
Moving Blackmon down to second (ask suggested by Black) may not be enough. It was brought to my attention (thanks Pat) that I had written an article on this subject back in January on my old blog, before I joined Rox Pile. In that article, I brought up the idea of shaking up the lineup by moving LeMahieu to leadoff and letting Arenado and Blackmon be interchangeable in the 3- and 4-hole, depending on matchups to beef up the middle of the order.
LeMahieu is batting12-for-39 (.307), with seven runs, three homers and five RBI in his 10 games leading off this season. With someone else in the 2-spot, such as Chris Iannetta, the Rockies will get the opportunity to add extra traffic or move LeMahieu over into scoring position for the middle of the order.
Blackmon and Arenado would then see the added benefit of not only having added protection from each other but seeing more fastballs with men on base. In Arenado’s absence the last five games, Chuck Nazty was 6-for-19 (.316) with a pair of homers and seven RBI hitting third in the order. Blackmon’s production was already record-setting leading off last year. Just think what his numbers could be with people getting on in front of him.
Bud Black’s offense is in desperate need of a swift kick in the you know where. Just maybe a lineup shake-up might do it.