This month, Rox Pile is answering your questions via Twitter in our articles. Today’s question deals with a scenario many Colorado Rockies fans have wondered about since the club slipped out of contention this season.
Nolan Arenado signed a huge contract this past offseason that will keep him in Denver through 2025. However, Nolan’s contract has an opt-out after the 2021 season.
When he signed the contract, Colorado Rockies fans thought the team was destined for several seasons of contention so the opt-out wasn’t a huge concern. After the team collapsed this summer, though, there is certainly reason for concern.
If the Rockies sort out their pitching situation and return to contention in 2020 and 2021, there is probably a good chance Nolan stays in purple. I think every fan who watched his emotional press conference after his extension saw that Nolan really does want to remain in Denver.
At the same time, it’s impossible to watch him and not see how badly he wants to win, and if the Rockies put up two more dismal seasons like the past couple months with no end in sight, it’s hard to imagine Nolan making the decision to risk never seeing the playoffs again by staying after 2021.
This season has been disappointing: there’s no other way to put it. The Rockies have the talent to win, especially on offense, and that talent should continue to improve over the next couple seasons, so it’s unlikely the Rockies will have another season that’s this bad in the near future.
The number one area they need to address to right the ship is clearly their pitching, and that brings us to your second question. Last season, Darren Holmes and Steve Foster were praised for their work with the pitching staff but this season, they’ve taken a lot of heat because the team just can’t pitch. And as bad as the rotation has been, the bullpen has been worse.
For younger players, the struggles can be partially blamed on growing pains but for veterans like Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw, that is clearly not the issue. Whenever a facet of a team’s game is struggling, it is natural to blame coaching and while that is certainly a fair reaction, it is not the only factor in the Rockies’ pitching struggles.
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Injuries have played a part in the Rockies’ pitching woes as has the league’s controversial new baseballs that Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander infamously complained were turning the game into a “joke.”
Earlier this summer, SB Nation’s Beyond the Boxscore put out a very interesting article on how the new “juiced” baseball could be affecting Rockies pitchers worse than the staffs of the other 29 teams. Basically, the article explains how the combination of the new baseballs and the high altitude of Coors Field was significantly reducing pitch movement and making it nearly impossible to pitch in Denver.
And since one of the most important factors in competitive sports is confidence, getting tossed around like a ragdoll every time you’re on the mound is likely to contribute to increasingly worse performance as the season goes on.
This isn’t the only reason the Rockies’ pitchers are struggling, but it is likely a part of the issue. As for the pitching coaches, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some shakeup headed into next season, but it likely won’t be anything too drastic.
Whatever Colorado decides to do with their coaching staff, they need to fix their pitching for the 2020 season. If they can’t, they might just force Nolan Arenado to take his opt out after 2021.