Colorado Rockies: 3 strange numbers from a strange month

DENVER, CO - APRIL 06: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies rounds third base to score on a Carlos Gonzalez RBI triple in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on April 6, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - APRIL 06: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies rounds third base to score on a Carlos Gonzalez RBI triple in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on April 6, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /
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DENVER, CO – OCTOBER 01: Pat Valaika #4 of the Colorado Rockies bats during a regular season MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – OCTOBER 01: Pat Valaika #4 of the Colorado Rockies bats during a regular season MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images) /

Abysmal pinch hitting

The Rockies went 5-for-45 pinch hitting in the first month, a horrifying batting average of 0.111. Pat Valaika “led the way” with a pair of hits in 12 at-bats. Ryan McMahon did not record a hit in 11 at-bats as a pinch hitter.

Perhaps the Rockies should just let their pitchers hit — they had a .167 batting average and a .182 OBP going into May. Maybe even let Dinger take a swing.

The pinch-hitting problem shines a light on a critical issue facing the Rockies — lineup depth. The Rockies are loaded with left-handed bats, and DJ LeMahieu‘s injury takes away a critical right-handed bat and one of the Rockies’ best hitters, period. When the Rockies face a left-handed pitcher (and they’ve faced many), nearly every viable right-handed bat is already in the lineup. That includes Valaika, who has been truly abysmal at the plate, going into May slashing .096/.145/.154.

Obvoiusly, it would be ideal to have more men on base when Charlie Blackmon, LeMahieu, and Nolan Arenado arrive at the plate in late innings. And expect this to happen more often as the Rockies move pieces around to find some solutions.

Noel Cuevas is a right-handed batter who has shown some early promise at the plate. Meanwhile, Tom Murphy seems primed for another shot in the majors (it’s just too bad he’s not a first baseman). I expect Raimel Tapia to get called up at some point, and while he’s a leftie his platoon splits aren’t concerning.

Poor pinch hitting is not the Rockies’ most critical issue, but it is indicative of more serious problems. There are promising options going forward — it’s just on Rockies management to make the right calls.