Entrenched in a horrible slump, Colorado Rockies All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado sat out in Sunday’s disappointing 5-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
For the first time this season, Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black sat out Nolan Arenado. In a typical season, sitting out a player who is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and is hitting .185 on the year would be a good idea … except this is not a typical season. With the season shortened to 60 games, every game counts even more, and the decision to sit out the team’s best player should not be taken lightly.
This decision caused me to get into quite the heated debate with friends. It turned into a debate filled with multiple four-letter words and examinations of Black’s decision from every angle. With that in mind, let’s break down the controversy.
Reasons to sit Arenado
There is no question that Arenado is struggling mightily at the plate. He has zero hits in his last 14 at-bats and 4 for his last 31 with three home runs, which all came in consecutive games. If he wasn’t anybody other than Nolan Arenado, giving him a day off to clear his head/get his mind right would make perfect sense.
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Monday’s probable starter for the Arizona Diamondbacks is left-hander Robbie Ray. In 41 career at-bats against Ray, Arenado has 14 hits (.341) with a trio of home runs and 9 RBI. Giving him the day to get prepared Ray would seem logical.
Seattle’s starting pitcher, Justus Sheffield, had been really bad in his first two starts, entering the game with a 9.39 ERA. Who would have thought he would pitch six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out seven against a Rockies offense that had been scoring a lot of runs? Also, with Colorado’s number one starter (Germán Márquez) on the mound, no one expected him to give up five runs (two earned).
Reasons to play Arenado
In a 60-game season, games count more than if they played 162. The Rockies may be sitting pretty with a 11-4 record, but a bad stretch could easily bring the them back down to Earth and derail the season quickly. Not putting your best players on field every day, even if it is against a struggling Mariners team, is a big mistake.
Black had been using the new universal DH to give certain players days off in the field, so why not do the same with Arenado? Giving him a day to just focus on just hitting instead of playing defense could have helped him immensely.
As mentioned earlier, Sheffield had struggled in his earlier outings. What I left out was that, like Ray, he is also a left-handed pitcher. What better way for Arenado to break out of a slump than to face a lefty on back-to-back days, especially if he has had past success against one of them?
Of course, had the Rockies wound up winning the game, there would have been little controversy, but hindsight is always 20/20. I suspect that this will likely be the last time Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, or Trevor Story, for that matter, will find themselves out of the lineup, no matter what the circumstances may be.