With just 21 games left in the regular season for the Colorado Rockies, time (and winning) is of the essence. Therefore, this Rockies lineup is the one that should be employed as much as possible over the remainder of the season.
Heading into Sunday night’s series finale in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, the Colorado Rockies sit at 19-20 and would be the eighth seed in the National League playoffs. That would mean the Rockies and Dodgers would square off in the first round of the postseason.
Let’s face it, the Rockies not only need to just win to stay in the postseason race but also to do everything they can to avoid their division rivals in the first round of the playoffs.
So what can Colorado do to give itself the best chance of winning? Employ a batting order and defensive lineup that gives them the best chance to score victories in what will be a tough close to the season (including 10 remaining games against the Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Oakland A’s, all teams placed within the top three of their respective leagues in terms of winning percentage).
Based on recent performances, here’s the lineup we would love to see Bud Black roll out as much as possible over the next 21 games.
Raimel Tapia — LF
Trevor Story — SS
Nolan Arenado — 3B
Charlie Blackmon — DH
Kevin Pillar — CF
Josh Fuentes — 1B
Sam Hilliard — RF
Garrett Hampson — 2B
Tony Wolters — C
More from Rox Pile
- Colorado Rockies: The 2021 ZiPS projections are out and it’s not good for the Rockies
- Colorado Rockies: Where does Robert Stephenson fit for 2021?
- Colorado Rockies: GM Jeff Bridich’s conference call draws criticism
- Colorado Rockies: Things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies news: A 2-for-2 trade with the Cincinnati Reds
Let’s look at some of the reasoning here, based on some stats and a recent quote from Black.
“The thing that I see, the coaches see and even the players see … is we haven’t got that critical hit, to extend an inning or to break open a game, to keep the momentum going,” Black recently told media members, including Rox Pile. “That just doesn’t seem to have occurred as often as you would like to see.
“There have been some at-bats from some of our younger guys where they have tried too hard, they have expanded the zone a little bit in big situations, where maybe the calmness and the poise has come into play.”
One of those “younger guys” that Black referring to is, unfortunately, Ryan McMahon. The 25-year-old burst onto the scene to grab the second base role last season but has plummeted back to earth in 2020. Strikeouts have been a big part of McMahon’s issues, including 10 in his last 21 at-bats. Slashing just .211/.311/.412, McMahon is struggling and a shortened season can’t forgive slumps. With that in mind, Hampson has to slide into the second base role, as our own Aaron Hurt discussed recently.
Of course, it’s not just McMahon who’s been under the spotlight for struggling. Matt Kemp and Daniel Murphy have also played themselves onto a spot on the bench with their recent struggles.
How about the other 35 year old?
Over his last 59 plate appearances, Matt Kemp is hitting .186/.288/.283 for a .571 OPS. https://t.co/zO8BndLPUe
— Luke Hall (@OakTreeStatus) September 6, 2020
A grouping of Pillar, Tapia, and Hilliard gives Colorado its best defensive arrangement in the outfield, and Fuentes has proven with his bat and glove that he can handle first better than Murphy. He was a big reason for Colorado’s strong finish on Saturday night in Los Angeles and helped the Rockies continue their momentum, as Black hoped for in the quote above.
Now certainly there are some caveats (and additional thoughts) to this.
What happens when David Dahl returns? Can he return from the injured list to make a meaningful impact at the plate? Black gave an update on Dahl’s return this weekend. He gave a second update on Saturday, in which he said that Dahl took batting practice with the team on Saturday in Dodger Stadium so he is now with the Rockies.
The DH also allows Black to move players around and give them a break when needed in the field, especially in the outfield.
What do you think? How would you change things up? Let us know in the comments section below or on social media.