Thanks to a welcome surge in their offensive production, the Rockies have regained their winning ways with a welcome string of series wins that include taking 2 of 3 games from the Washington Nationals at Coors Field then traveling to Atlanta to take two of three from the Braves at Sun Trust Park. They start this week with a record of 13 wins and 15 losses, five games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in what so far looks as if it will be a much more competitive Western Division.
In those last six games the numbers are impressive. The Rockies scored 43 runs on 59 hits with a run differential of plus 10. In four of the six games the Rockies scored seven or more runs which was a big boost for Taco Bell lovers.
The big contributors were the usual suspects. Nolan Arenado continues to heat up and, despite a .279 batting average, leads the team with 20 RBI. Trevor Story just keeps producing, leading the team with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He also has a personal best 16 game hitting streak which leads the majors.
Charlie Blackmon rediscovered his swing and timing and is third on the team with 15 RBIs. Remember April 16, Charlie’s batting average was .221. It’s now a much healthier .288. The final contributor to what should prove to be a daunting lineup for any opponent is veteran Daniel Murphy who after his return from the Injured List added five RBI including two home runs over the weekend in Atlanta.
The downside as the team moves forward lies with pitching staff. Basically, the Rockies don’t have a full five-man starting rotation. Kyle Freeland who is projected to be the numero uno of this group has already missed two starts due to a recurring blister on his throwing hand. He currently has pitched only 27.2 innings. Despite his problems he has maintained a WHIP of 1.19. German Marquez has a 3 win-1 loss record after working his way through 39.0 innings while recording a WHIP of 1.05. Jon Gray has pitched 37 innings, but his occasionally inconsistent outings have led to a 2 win-3 loss record as his WHIP ballooned to 1.27. Antonio Senzatela has pitched 18.1 innings collecting 2 wins and 1 loss. His WHIP is high at 1.36 but he has shown the ability to pitch his way out of trouble. Finally, Tyler Anderson has continued to struggle which has created a void in the rotation. Manager Bud Black is convinced that Anderson has the right stuff to be an ace. Black has also shown that his approach to developing young starters is a tough one. It goes something like this: “You’re here,” he says, “because we believe in your potential. Here’s the deal. If you get into to trouble, I’m not going to pull you out. You’re going to have to pitch your way out of it. If you’re having control problems, you’re not going to cure them in the bullpen or by going back to Albuquerque. You’re going to cure them by finding the answers in a big league game every fifth day.” It will be fascinating to watch how these hurlers progress with this type of challenge.
This week the Rockies head to Milwaukee for a four-game series at Miller Park with the Brewers, the team that swept them in the playoffs last season. The memory of that series is said to have fueled the Rockies determination during the offseason and throughout spring training. Let’s see if that fuel can fire up some important wins.
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