The Rockies hopes of making a late season surge ended when a series of injuries crippled what was already an inconsistent pitching staff. The most serious blow was the loss of their prized reliever Scott Oberg, who was sidelined by a blood clot in his arm. The treatment required for this condition means that his season is over.
The next to fall was Kyle Freeland, who had gradually improved his starting numbers as the season progressed. He was removed from the game with a groin injury in midst of the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s 8-7 loss to the Diamondbacks. Freeland had struggled with a similar injury previously. His return this season is questionable.
An even more serious blow was the loss of Jon Gray, who suffered a fractured foot that will require surgery. Gray, who to date was producing the best season of his Rockies career, will be out of action at least until next spring.
Finally, Chad Bettis, who had been struggling to fill in as a long reliever, was placed on the injured list with a right hip impingement that will require season-ending surgery.
Immediately hampered by the dwindling pitching staff, the Rockies continued to be challenged by the still contending teams on their schedule. They began the week with three games against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Then then they traveled to St. Louis for a four-game series with the surging Cardinals, who lead the Central Division. Short-handed on the mound and perhaps disheartened, they lost 2 of 3 games in Arizona and were swept by the Cardinals, outscored 31-12.
By necessity, the Rockies moved quickly to shore up the pitching staff. Even before this rash of injuries they had been relying on 22-year old Peter Lambert and former Texas Ranger Chi Chi Gonzalez to fill in as starters. Their most recent addition was 29-year old journeyman hurler Tim Melville, who in his first appearance with the Rockies delivered the best performance of his on-and-off major league career. On Wednesday he held the Diamondbacks to 1 run on 2 hits in a 7-2 Rockies victory, the only win in a discouraging week.
With 31 games left in the season, the Rockies will have to rely on the talent that they have available. If Tim Melville continues to deliver, he’ll take his place in the starting rotation with German Marquez, Peter Lambert and Chi Chi Gonzalez. To fill in for the loss of Scott Oberg, Atlanta Braves hurler Wes Parsons was picked up on waivers. And since bullpen veterans Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis have continued to struggle, manager Bud Black will be asking his young relievers – Carlos Estevez, Jairo Diaz, Jesus Tinoco and Yency Almonte to save some wins in the remaining games.
It doesn’t get any easier this week as the Rockies return home. Tim Melville will get another chance to establish himself in the starting rotation in a makeup game with the East Division-leading Atlanta Braves on Monday. Then the Rockies will face the Boston Red Sox in a short two game series followed by a weekend battle with Clint Hurdle’s Pittsburgh Pirates.
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