One way to counter the effects of a faltering starting rotation is to overwhelm your opponent by scoring double-digit runs as the Rockies did in Thursday’s game with the Giants in a 12-11 win, in Friday’s game with the Padres with a 12-2 win, and in Sunday’s homestand finale with the Padres in a 10-7 win. Admittedly, this is not a long-term solution to pitching woes but this time around it kept the Rockies in the hunt with 19-21 record, 6.5 games back of the Dodgers in the Western Division.
Before we get to the pitching problems, let’s look at the Rockies hitters as the weather and their bats begin to warm up. The usual suspects lead the way with Nolan Arenado batting .319 which includes 33 RBI, 10 home runs and 22 extra base hits. Charlie Blackmon has found his groove in the last two weeks and now sports a .305 average with 25 RBI including 8 home runs and 24 extra base hits. Trevor Story’s batting average is .275 but he has accounted for 26 RBI with 9 home runs and 18 extra base hits. Young outfielder Raimel Tapia’s power hitting has moved him into the spotlight. He’s batting .313 with 18 RBI including 8 home runs, 4 triples and 12 doubles.
It’s hard to interpret what all these statistics mean as the season progresses. We ask ourselves, “What’s important? Is there a trend here?” I mentioned some performance indicators we can look at in an earlier column. Here’s one we can use to gauge how well the Rockies hitters are doing. It’s called OPS (On-base Plus Slugging). OPS adds on-base percentage and slugging percentage to get one number. It’s meant to combine how well a hitter can reach base with how well he can hit for average and power. For our purpose, let’s consider performance of .850 or above as special. Currently, Nolan Arenado’s OPS is .957, Charlie Blackmon’s is .941, Trevor Story’s is .853 and Raimel Tapia’s is an impressive .979. Let’s keep an eye the hitters’ OPS as we move forward.
And now to the problems with the Rockies starters. Until Jon Gray delivered his 6.0 inning, 3 run performance in Saturday night’s disappointing 4-3 loss, the Rockies had not had a quality start (6 innings with 3 runs or less) in 13 games. Happily, Antonio Senzatela delivered another quality start in Sunday’s win. The outlook has been grim. Kyle Freeland has experienced some serious control problems that have left him with a record of 2 wins and 5 losses and a cringe-worthy ERA of 5.84. German Marquez has been roughed up by the long ball. His ERA is 3.43 but he still has salvaged a record of 4 wins and 2 losses. Jon Gray has a 3 win, 3 loss record. He’s also had too many control lapses which have led to an ERA of 4.25. Finally, Antonio Senzatela’s ERA of 5.35 shows that he’s had his difficulties but his performance on Sunday was encouraging. Consistent quality starts are essential. They were a major factor in the Rockies 90 wins last season.
This week the Rockies head to Boston for a two-game series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Then they’ll move on to Citizen’s Bank Park for a three-game weekend series with the Eastern Division-leading Phillies.
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