The 2020 season is coming to a close for the Colorado Rockies and there are three things we would like to see in their final series of the season.
Barring a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend and epic collapses by a handful of teams in the National League, the Colorado Rockies will, for the second straight season, find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture.
Since their fate is sealed in 2020, they are looking toward 2021 and while there won’t be any huge decisions made for the 2021 team in four games, there are some things that we’d like to see in the final series of the season.
Sam Hilliard play in each game
Despite being one of the best Rockies offensive players in 2020 (granted, it has been a low bar), Sam Hilliard was sent back to the Rockies alternate training site just over a week ago and he was just recently recalled.
Entering Thursday, his OPS+ was 87, which is the fifth-highest among active Rockies. The four above him are Trevor Story, Kevin Pillar (who was just acquired a month ago), Charlie Blackmon (who has, frankly, been one of the Rockies worst offensive players in the last five weeks), and Josh Fuentes.
He rarely sees left-handed pitching, though, as the Rockies have Matt Kemp on the bench, who is best known for hitting left-handed pitchers. If the D’Backs keep with their regular starters and keep them on rotation, Madison Bumgarner would be starting the season finale on Sunday. And Sam Hilliard should be in the starting lineup for it.
Bumgarner is not the Bumgarner of 2014 lore but he’s still a veteran lefty that Hilliard could get some work against. Matt Kemp is not going to be part of the Rockies’ long-term future as even if he does resign with the Rockies, it would be for a one-year deal.
Even when not facing a lefty, put him out there and get more of a look at him.
Speaking of getting more looks…
Elias Diaz catching all of (or at least the majority of) the games
Elias Diaz likely won’t catch all the games in the four game series, especially since the Rockies have a double-header on Friday. However, considering that he has been the Rockies’ best catcher and it hasn’t even been close, the Rockies should use him as such.
Is he part of the long-term plans? Who knows. But, offensively, he is much better than both Tony Wolters and Drew Butera and defensively, he’s at league average (Butera is 37th in runs extra strikes, per Statcast, and Diaz is 38th. Wolters is 46th (minimum 250 pitches caught)).
The Rockies catching situation is one that they should address in the offseason and it’s one they, frankly, have needed to address the vast majority of their franchise history. Diaz likely isn’t the answer to that but right now, he’s the best they have.
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Jesus Tinoco be recalled and used … and not just for the doubleheader
The Rockies optioned Jesus Tinoco off of their roster on Saturday in what’s been an odd season for him (more than it has been for others). After appearing in 24 games with the Rockies in 2019, the Rockies traded him on August 14 to the Miami Marlins for a minor leaguer.
After in appearing in just three games for the Marlins, they put him on waivers and the Rockies claimed him back.
His main problem is his control (5.6 walks per nine innings in 43 1/3 MLB innings) but at this point, he is probably one of the Rockies best relievers. The problem that they have is that every reliever that is struggling is out of options.
The most logical choices to be sent down are Tommy Doyle, who was just called up this week, or Antonio Santos. He has been a long reliever in the Rockies bullpen but he will get a spot start in the second games of the doubleheader on Friday so that will likely be his last outing of the season.
Just before the Rockies sent him down last Saturday, Rockies manager Bud Black said that Tinoco is “in a group of guys that we’re continuing to keep our eye on as potential fits in our bullpen moving forward in the years to come.”
So if Tinoco is possibly part of the Rockies future bullpen, why not bring him up to see how fares against MLB hitting this weekend?