On July 3, the Colorado Rockies played their 81st game of the season, officially marking the halfway point of the 162-game season. They lost 4-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, their fifth loss in a row including a sweep by the Dodgers in a series where the Rockies only scored two runs. However, it’s indicative of their season: so close, but something is still missing.
After 81 games, the Rockies are 37-44, in third place in the NL West—a mere 13.5 games behind first place San Francisco—and in sixth place in the Wild Card, seven games behind the Dodgers and the New York Mets.
Overall, the Rockies have the third best team batting average in the MLB: .273, only second to the Chicago Cubs in the National League. However, like usual, the Rockies have dramatic home and away splits. Their home team batting average is .305 while their batting average on the road is a mediocre .244. Every team hits better at home, but the Rockies’ stats are particularly bad.
The pitching staff has also struggled; the starting staff has posted a 5.21 ERA, second worst in the league. The bullpen’s ERA is only slightly better at 5.02. Coors Field inflation can be taken into account with both ERAs, but it can’t be an excuse for all of it. In particular, the bullpen has started to struggle more lately, and they’re most likely tired. They’ve had to pick up more slack from the starters, plus it’s almost halfway through the season. Baseball is a long season and it can be especially hard on an overworked bullpen. And the more a bullpen has to work, the more mistakes they’re going to make.
So that’s all the bad stuff. The silver lining is that at this time last year, the Rockies were 34-46 and in last place in their division. Maybe that’s just indicative of the awful seasons that the Diamondbacks and Padres are having while the Giants are one of the best teams in the league, but the Rockies do have a better lineup than last year. There are five guys—Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon—who are bonafide hitters, not to mention the rest of the lineup, which isn’t too shabby either. Young pitchers Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson are finding their footing. Pitcher Tyler Chatwood is coming off the DL this week, adding a boost to the starting rotation, and relief pitcher Adam Ottavino could come off the DL as soon as this week after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
If the Rockies are going to have a shot at making the playoffs via the Wild Card—they don’t have a chance to win the division—they need to turn it around fast. They also need to make a trade for another starting pitcher in order to compete this year. It’s not impossible—the 2009 playoff team had the exact same record at this point in ‘09. To be considered buyers and not sellers by the All Star Break, the Rockies basically need to win six of their next seven, if not win out.
All hope isn’t lost, but the hitters need to break out of their slump now, and management needs to get them another pitcher as a sign of faith. As it stands, it doesn’t look like this team can make the playoffs alone. They look tired and fed up with losing, so some kind of change needs to be made if general management Jeff Bridich really wants to commit to being good this year.