ROX BUMBLE INTO BREAK; IN THE ATL FRIDAY
The 2016 Major League Baseball season reached its All Star Break Sunday evening, the Colorado Rockies smarting from an ugly loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, 10-3, veteran relievers Jake McGee and Jason Motte surrendering deadly home runs in the late innings. Colorado was trailing 4-2 with 2 outs in the top of the 7th when manager Walt Weiss mysteriously turned to McGee in favor of recently reactivated Adam Ottavino. 3 outs later McGee and Motte had gifted the Phillies 6 additional tallies, and the Rockies were left to head off on their short vacation tails between legs. For the week Colorado was 3-4, dropping 2 of 3 to the Giants in San Francisco, and splitting 4 with Philadelphia. The west coast power outage continued in San Fran, single runs Monday and Wednesday sandwiched around getting beyond the Mad Bum Tuesday to log a 7-3 win behind an angry 3-run Nolan Arenado blast. The bats got loose again Thursday at Coors Field, Chad Bettis delivering a nice start, and Tyler Anderson logged his first MLB win Saturday when the Rockies solved Jerad Eickholt in a 6-run 6th.
Colorado sits 40-48 at the break, which sdcarp tells us projects to 74 wins. The group sure seems like it ought to be better than 45% in the second half, so despite what’s been a dismal first third of July, there’s still plenty of fun and excitement to follow.
The uneven first half in a sense paralleled the plight of the starting pitcher rotation, which opened with Jorge De La Rosa in the veteran anchor role followed by Bettis, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles and Eddie Butler, along for the ride with Jon Gray nursing a late camp sore shoulder. DLR and Lyles were a mess, pitching their way off the farm, or better put, back to the farm, in a matter of weeks. By way of contrast, Bettis was looking good, and Chatwood, returning from Tommy John no. 2, was just short of spectacular, at least away from the intersection of 2oth and Blake. Gray returned looking good as well, comfortable now as an MLBer in contrast to his 2015 cameo. Gray’s return looked to bounce Butler, but De La Rosa came up lame, so Butler stuck for a bit more, holding his own with Chris Rusin rehabbing in Arizona. Once Rusin came back Butler headed briefly to the ‘pen, but by then Lyles was flaming so alarmingly he scored a flight to New Mexico, and Eddie was back on the wheel. DLR, meanwhile returned from his rehab, albeit as a reliever. Butler gutted his way through a couple more harrowing appearances, at least once backed up by De La Rosa, who suddenly had regained his mojo, and inevitably the lefty regained his starting slot, Eddie once more looking to head south. Don’t hold your breath though because no sooner could you say “Jack Robinson” than there was Chatwood trudging off to the DL with a back strain. New life for Eddie! Undeterred, one more bomb show finally got Eddie his trip to Albuquerque.
Unexpectedly getting the MLB call was left-hander Tyler Anderson, the one-time first rounder who’d battled injuries for much of his minor league career. Anderson had made something like 6 starts in Hartford and 2 for the Isotopes when he got the word, and has been a revelation since his arrival. 6 starts in, he’s pitched in tough-luck, one win against 3 losses, but the ERA is 3.03, and he’s made it well into the 6th each outing.
Overall team performance has followed along the chaos in the starting staff, unable to get on a roll and suffering several prolonged losing stretches including the current struggle. Colorado held its own in the early going hovering around the .500 mark, uncharacteristically doing most of its winning on the road. But mid-May presented a 9-game trip east through St Louis, Pittsburgh and Boston, and from that point forward the Rockies have managed a maximum of one win in each succeeding road series. The first of the big slides came upon the return from that trip. Momentum has been elusive throughout. Chatwood’s injury coincided with a prolonged bullpen malfunction, and that reached a crescendo Sunday afternoon.
Disappointment beside, there is quite a bit to be cheery about, much of it unexpected. Trevor Story was all the rage early, sliding into Troy Tulowitzki’s vacated shortstop position and the 5-hole in the batting order seemlessly. Jose Reyes never had a chance. Carlos Estevez emerged as the closer, at least for now. Who knew who he was 2 months ago? For all the speculation about the young arms ready to rise from the minors, who expected Anderson would be the first? Jon Gray looks like a star in the making. Chatwood couldn’t have returned better. Carlos Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu are sparring over the batting title. Arenado continues to vie for best-in-the game honors. The defense in general is just about as good as it gets.
The non-waiver trade deadline is next on the horizon, general manager Jeff Bridich on the clock. If I’m Jeff I’m feeling pretty good. No pressure to make a deal, but all set to take one if something I like comes along. The Rox are off to Atlanta for 3 last goes at Turner Field when play resumes. DLR gets the start against TBD. Colorado returns to Coors July 18 for 3 against the Rays and 4 more with the Braves.
Fun and excitement to follow.