Colorado Rockies: What to expect during Trevor Story’s absence
By Kevin Henry
On Wednesday, the Colorado Rockies lost their All-Star shortstop to a sprained thumb. On Thursday, the Rockies learned they wouldn’t be without him for an extended period of time and started to navigate through the National League West without one of their biggest bats.
When Trevor Story left the game in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s road game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, there were questions about the extent of Trevor Story’s thumb injury as well as how long the Colorado Rockies shortstop might be out. On Thursday, it was revealed that Story was heading to the 10-day injured list and, according to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post in this article, could miss at least two weeks of playing time.
Story’s injury will cause him to likely be out of the lineup until after the All-Star break. The Rockies resume the “second half” of their schedule on July 12 when the open a three-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds. That means that Story will miss a total of seven games against the West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and six combined games against other National League West foes in Arizona and San Francisco plus a pair of home games against the Houston Astros.
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Those are some pivotal games against tough competition as the Rockies try to maintain their edge in the race for the postseason.
Losing Story during a key part of the schedule feels very similar to last season when the 26-year-old missed time in September after developing elbow inflammation in a game at Dodger Stadium after one at-bat on September 17. He wouldn’t return until September 24 as the Rockies and Dodgers fought to the end for the NL West title.
Last season, the Rockies primarily turned to Garrett Hampson in Story’s absence and he responded with a 4-for-14 performance that included an RBI. He also scored a run.
This year, look for Colorado to split time between Pat Valaika and Brendan Rodgers at shortstop. Valaika got the start on Thursday with Rodgers coming in later in the game.
Story’s injury comes at a time when the Colorado offense is clicking on all gears and the shortstop has been a big part of that, hitting .375/.412/.688 over his last seven games. He has batted second in the lineup in 50 of Colorado’s 74 games and cleanup (fourth) in 20 other contests. That’s a big bat out of the top of the order and, with 65 runs scored this season, a big table-setter for Nolan Arenado, David Dahl and Daniel Murphy, among others.
Rodgers and Valaika will have to come through at the plate, likely at the bottom of the order. They will also have to maintain a high level in the field as well. Story and Arenado have become one of the best left sides of the infield in Major League Baseball. To expect Rodgers or Valaika to morph into Story on defense can’t be expected. However, both have to, at the very least play solid defense and be ready to work with Ryan McMahon on turning the double play efficiently.
In my exclusive chat with Rodgers at the end of April, he expressed his comfort level at shortstop, a position he has played growing up and in the minors as well. He’ll now get the chance to exhibit his skills there and show why he has so often been called a key piece of Colorado’s future.
For Valaika, this is a chance (perhaps his last) to show he belong as a part of the Rockies roster. It’s been a struggle for him since 2017. Will this be a chance for him to finally get back on track?
Yes, the Rockies will miss Story in the lineup and in the field. However, there are opportunities for other players to step up. How much they do may play a big role in just how well Colorado navigates the tough stretch between now and the All-Star break.