Colorado Rockies: What we’ve learned in the opening month

Apr 29, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black talks to catcher Dom Nunez (3) in the first fifth against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black talks to catcher Dom Nunez (3) in the first fifth against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

Much like the late, great Dennis Green’s infamous quote after his Arizona Cardinals lost a three-touchdown lead on Monday Night Football to the Chicago Bears nearly 15 years ago, the Colorado Rockies are exactly who we thought they were.

In 2019, the Rockies had a roller coaster opening month in 2019 with very high expectations after making back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history. They promptly opened that season 3-12. After a brilliant one-hit gem thrown by German Marquez against the Giants, the Rockies finished April 10-4.

In 2020, it was kind of the opposite for the club. With the start of the season starting in July due to the pandemic, Colorado got off to a wondrous start, going 11-3 out of the gate. In a 60-game season, it seemed like the Rockies would inevitably get back on track and get into the playoffs. Instead, they barely doubled their win total from thereon out and proceeded to have the worst offseason in franchise history.

It’s far too soon for everyone but St. Louis Cardinals fans to recall all of that, so let’s start digging into the opening month of the 2021 season.

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The Colorado Rockies are exactly who we thought they were … because they’re not a good baseball team.

If you could sum up the first month of the season with the feeling amongst fans, it might have been the 12-0 loss to the Giants earlier this week. The day started with general manager Jeff Bridich resigning 21 games into his seventh season. It seemed fitting that it ended with (who else?) Nolan Arenado’s cousin, third baseman Josh Fuentes, pitching in mop up duty after the game was started by the highest-rated returned prospect in the Arenado swap, Austin Gomber.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Whenever things start to look bright again for the Rockies, this game may be looked back as the lowest point. Hopefully, that point though is one of inflection.

While it seems inexplicable that the Rockies picked Bridich over Arenado and then the GM couldn’t even get through the first month without their superstar is a topic for another article. That night Fuentes pitched (a shutout inning to be noted), the Rockies got off to their worst road start (0-7) since 1993. While they won their first road game of the season the next night, they dropped the rubber match in a start by Marquez. He has a very good 3.45 ERA, but his command this season is still an issue. Marquez is particularly struggling with runners on base as he walked in two runs in his most recent start against the Giants.

As for the rest of the rotation, Jon Gray has been the club’s best pitcher with three wins, which (it’s difficult to say) is great for him in a contract year. It almost seems impossible we will see him in purple come the trade deadline with his 2.54 ERA and 1.6 bWAR. The later stat is tied for fifth in all of MLB. Kyle Freeland is, of course, out after straining his shoulder in spring training but does seem to be back on the mend, so hopefully we will see him soon. Colorado’s next best pitcher is Chi Chi Gonzalez with a 3.46 ERA, but with only three starts. In case anyone was wondering, Gomber has a -.3 WAR, 6.65 ERA, and a 1-3 record in five starts to open the season.

While that may surprise no one, the bullpen is surprising lately after a horrendous start to the season. Over the first half of the season, the bullpen started with a 5.58 ERA and 27 walks in nearly 55 innings. The club unsurprisingly was 4-12 at that point, but has gone 5-3 since. The Rockies aren’t blowing anyone away, but they did put together a solid homestand and the bullpen has stepped it up with a 3.38 ERA in that span.

As for the lineup, good for Ryan McMahon. He’s the best hitter in the Rockies lineup. Whether that says more about more about Mac or the Rockies is up for debate but, to his credit, he’s tied for the lead in homers with eight, has 15 RBI, and is posting a .273 average. If he was batting .000, nobody would blame him. He is in the most unenviable position in Rockies history, playing third base after Nolan. However, he’s in his natural position and doing great. What else can you ask for? Well, besides the Rockies not tanking and Trevor Story hitting more than two home runs.

How the Rockies celebrated their first road victory of 2021. dark. Next

Speaking of which, the rumor is that Story will be gone before the deadline. The aforementioned linked article classifies the Rockies as “a dumpster fire.” A couple of surprises have rescued the Rox from that dubious distinction. Otherwise, the state of Colorado baseball is exactly what we thought it would be in 2021. Is that bad? All we can say for certain, it’s not good.