The Colorado Rockies are a couple of games into the second quarter of the season. Whether or not you consider 40 or 41 games played a quarter way through the season (since 40.5 games is technically a quarter of the way through the season), there was no denying this: the Rockies were the worst team in the National League.
After all, they had the worst record in the NL by 2.5 or 3 games over the Pirates (depending on if you want to go for 40 or 41 games played for the Rockies).
Their chance of making the playoffs is less than one-tenth of one percent so that is virtually out of the equation but they can show signs of life to show they can be a contender in 2022 and, perhaps, be more competitive in 2021.
Here are three things that the Rockies must have to be more competitive in the second quarter of the season.
The Rockies bullpen must get to an adequate level
There hasn’t been much good that has come out of the Rockies bullpen.
Until Tuesday, Daniel Bard did not have a full inning that was been clean since 2020 (he did have one full inning where he didn’t allow a baserunner but allowed a run since it was the runner on second to start the 10th inning). When you’re a closer, you have to have shutdown innings. Not an average of five walks per nine innings or 13.5 hits per nine innings, but averages half of that.
Entering Tuesday, Yency Almonte has an ERA creeping close to 12 with a WHIP of 2.00. Tyler Kinley had an ERA close to six and he was walking seven batters per nine innings. Mychal Givens is walking more than 4.5 per nine innings and has a FIP of 6.19. After starting off the season well, Robert Stephenson has an ERA north of 5.
Rookie left-handers Ben Bowden and Lucas Gilbreath have high ERA’s (6.39 and 9.53). Justin Lawrence, who has gone in between the alternate training site/Triple-A and the majors has an ERA of 9.00.
Honestly, their most consistent reliever in 2021 so far is Rule V pick Jordan Sheffield, who has an ERA of 1.42 in 13 games entering Tuesday. He is striking out nearly eight batters per nine innings and walking less than three batters per nine innings. He has the lowest WHIP (0.789) by nearly half of the next best reliever (Mychal Givens at 1.34)
Overall, entering Monday, they have a bullpen ERA of 5.84 which is … you guessed it, the worst in the National League and second-worst in baseball (only the Tigers are worse). They are in the bottom five in all of baseball in nearly every other stat, as well.
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Jon Gray can’t be the only Rockies starter who pitches well
Jon Gray, even with his clunker of a start on Monday, still has an ERA of 3.48 in nine starts but outside of him, the Rockies haven’t got much consistency.
German Marquez, Austin Gomber, Antonio Senzatela, and Chi Chi Gonzalez all entered Wednesday with ERA’s between 4.79 (Gonzalez) and 5.56 (Marquez).
Gomber and Marquez were walking more than or close to five batters per nine innings and Marquez, Senzatela, and Gonzalez all had WHIP’s north of 1.4. More traffic on the bases means more chances for the opponent to score.
Despite it being their “strength” entering the 2021 season, they have the second-highest starter’s ERA in the NL entering Tuesday at 4.75. They are walking the most batters of any NL pitching staff (3.94 BB/9) and are second-worst in baseball and they are striking out the least in the NL.
Gomber pitched well on Tuesday (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 7 K) so hopefully he can keep his walks down and hopefully his fellow starters can step up as well.
The Rockies have to play better on the road
The Rockies entered Tuesday with a road record of 2-15.
In games starting roadtrips, the Rockies have scored one run in four games. That was in their very first road game … when they scored one run … in the ninth inning … after a triple and a sac fly. That’s the only run that the Rockies have scored in a game to start a roadtrip.
The Rockies also have been shutout in six of those 15 losses.
Entering Tuesday, the Rockies were hitting .219/.283/.310 with a tOPS+ (OPS+ in relation to their entire offense) of 69. In other words, their offense is 31 percent worse on the road than their own average. Their Coors tOPS+ is 121 so the Rockies offense is 52 percent worse on the road than they are at home.
Whether it’s the Coors Field effect (which manager Bud Black doesn’t subscribe to) or them just not playing well, it has to change for them to get better. You simply can’t have a .118 winning percentage on the road and expect to be in contention.