Colorado Rockies: They are reeling and on the ropes … but not dead yet
By Jake Shapiro
MILWAUKEE — After eight consecutive sets without losing a single series, the Colorado Rockies have dropped two straight. Suddenly, their blazing hot month of July has turned into an ugly beginning to August that may tank their chances at everything after.
The question is not if the Colorado Rockies are on the ropes. They certainly are and have gotten here quickly. Their playoff odds from Fangraphs fell from nearly 35 percent chance to 15 percent within the last week. The question is … are we watching the club collapse?
After back-to-back walk-off losses, and three in five days, the Rockies got smoked 8-4 (they were down 7-0 but did bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth) by the Brew Crew. It was their fifth loss in their last six games and they wrap up a nightmare road tour through the Midwest tomorrow in Milwaukee.
On Monday, the Denver Nine will return to the friendly confines of Coors Field for a three-gamer with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who remain alive in the Wild Card race and bolstered up with a few flashy trades. This is followed by a four-game set with the National League West juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers, who remain in reach — as they have all year — but have yet to be caught by Colorado.
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The Rockies have had their chances since Opening Day, particularly early on to get ahead of the eight ball, but this most recent display is the most discouraging. Combining both the lack of moves at the trade deadline and the recent losses with the way they’ve lost those games — tight, a known would-be issue for the club — and a scary picture comes into view.
On Saturday, their starter failed to pitch five innings for the first time since Chad Bettis went down with an injury on July 1. While that might be a one-off, their 7.77 first inning ERA and 96 runs allowed total in the first frame has not been. Nor has their rebuilt $106-million bullpen being the culprit. That issue has been omnipresent in some of the team’s most recent and gruesome losses.
While they all count the same, even Bud Black acknowledged pre-game that losing in that fashion is more hurtful.
"“We need to play better collectively as a team,” the skipper said. “This season isn’t going to be lost by the bullpen, the starting rotation, lineup or defense. There are segments we need to work on and we will … our bullpen all year hasn’t performed like we thought it would but we’re right there in the thick of it, as a team we need to play well.”"
And the biggest weakness for the Rockies — as it has been all year — is the offense. Their offense, once park adjusted, is one that’s in the bottom third of baseball. In fact, their 86 wRC+ coming into the day on Saturday would go down as the fourth-worst offensive season in franchise history. This year is only bottomed by the 2002, 2000 and 2005 seasons which, needless to say, finished nowhere near contention.
Meanwhile, last season’s club did get into the postseason with a wRC+ of 87 so their poor offense hasn’t quite been so surprising. However, it’s still disappointing.
The Rockies aren’t dead and it would be foolish to write them off as they’ve shown resilience under Bud Black’s leadership. Plus they’re hot as can be as of late at home, winning 16 of their last 20 at a mile high. But only two of their last 17 series are against below .500 teams and they are behind two teams in their own division for the playoffs as well as several for the Wild Card.
It was always going to be tough considering where the club was when they finished June. They had the July they needed but the last week has only made it tough once again.