Colorado Rockies: The potential impact of DJ LeMahieu’s injury
By Kevin Henry
Lost in the joy of the Colorado Rockies posting an 11-10 road win over the Arizona Diamondbacks to start the post-All Star portion of their schedule was a bit of sobering news that could be a big factor in Colorado’s success in upcoming games.
All-Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu was taken out of the game before the third inning began with what Colorado manager Bud Black termed as an oblique injury, according to this article. The former batting champion is heading to the disabled list and, according to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, could be out for a “significant amount of time.” LeMahieu could potentially miss weeks of action, a huge blow to the Rockies chasing the postseason.
Those words are troubling for a number of reasons. First, of course, the Rockies are losing a key contributor on both offense and defense. The two-time Gold Glove winner is hitting .280/.326/.433, numbers that are low for LeMahieu compared to past seasons but still a vital part of a Rockies offense that has kicked into high gear in recent games.
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Second, losing LeMahieu means a shift in the lineup. Charlie Blackmon will likely return to his customary leadoff position while the Rockies fiddle with who might bat in front of Nolan Arenado. Choices in the past have included Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra and Chris Iannetta, so it’s been a revolving door when Black has had to fit a player into the slot.
Third, of course, someone has to take over LeMahieu’s position at second base. That could be Pat Valaika, who filled in for LeMahieu when he missed a game before the All-Star break with lower back tightness. The injury could also open the door for the Rockies to call up Garrett Hampson, who is hitting .306 at Triple-A Albuquerque, or recall Ryan McMahon, who has seen action in five games at second base for the Rockies already this season.
No, this won’t be the opening for Brendan Rodgers just yet. Without any Triple-A experience, it’s highly unlikely he would make the jump from Double-A to Major League Baseball with other options ahead of him in terms of experience and the Rockies in a postseason hunt.
Fourth, the injury will put a damper on any thoughts of what the Rockies might have done with LeMahieu at the trade deadline. Knowing his contract is ending after this season, there has been discussion that LeMahieu could be on the trading block knowing Hampson and Rodgers were waiting in the wings. However, with an oblique injury and an unknown timetable for return, there is little chance of LeMahieu leaving the Rockies before the trade deadline.
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LeMahieu’s injury will have repercussions for the Rockies on numerous levels, some immediately and some depending on how long he misses action. Either way, Colorado has some critical decisions to make over the next few days.