Colorado’s 11-3 rout of the Atlanta Braves completed a four-game sweep. Chuck Nazty was the biggest contributor with two-out, two-run singles two separate times in the second and the sixth. Both hits were in left on left situations. Tulo blasted a three-run shot two batters later after Blackmon’s go-ahead single to blow the game open. Drew Stubbs added a two-run homer for a good measure to complete the rout.
Chad Bettis had that determined look and he bounced back with a quality start. He was on cruise control through five innings. In the sixth, he started spraying his pitches. As a result, Atlanta scored three runs to tie the game 3-3. Colorado responded immediately in the bottom of the inning with five runs. Chris Rusin went two innings after Bettis and kept Atlanta at bay. Bettis gave up six hits and five walks while Rusin allowed two hits and a walk. With an eight-run lead, it was the prefect opportunity for Rex Brothers to redeem himself in the last inning. Brothers received a lot of help in his inning of work. A laser line drive right at Stubbs. Four-pitch walk. A couple of pitches that appeared out of the zone called strikes. The batters also helped him out swinging at balls out of the zone. So Brothers picked up a non-save if there was ever a stat for that.
This series sweep illustrated why pitching, pitching, and pitching is what the Rockies need the most. Typically, July games at Coors, produces high scoring games. Atlanta had three, three, two, and three runs in the four games. That allows the offense to relax and do their Coors Field magic. The offense is making the to-trade or not decisions more difficult with a little over two weeks left to deadline.
Tulo and CarGo needed almost three months to get into baseball game speed after missing the second half of last season. It doesn’t work without help from elsewhere. They are getting plenty of help elsewhere as of late. Blackmon has 40 RBIs and 11 HRs out of the lead off spot to go with 23 SBs . D.J. LeMahieu has emerged as a steady two-hole hitter after spending time hitting in front of a pitcher. He is batting .311 with 35 RBIs and 10 SBs. Impressive when he spent the first couple of months hitting eighth. Nolan Arenado is having a breakout season. Nick Hundley is having the best season of his career at the plate. Now the Rockies added depth in the outfield when Stubbs came back from Albuquerque with his swing back. That allows Brandon Barmes to return to his normal role as a fourth or fifth outfielder. The days of Rafael Ynoa and Ben Paulsen playing left field are over. Ben Paulsen and Baby Bull are providing just enough production at first base to make the lineup dangerous. They are at their best when they are in tight games or playing with a lead. There’s no explanation as to why the offense shuts down when they fall three or more runs behind early in the game.
Again that goes back to the Rockies’ need for better pitching. They have announced that Jorge De La Rosa and Bettis will be the first two starters after the break. I’m guessing (and hoping) Chris Rusin slides into the #3 slot. David Hale going on the DL may have been a blessing in disguise as it removes one Home Run Derby pitcher from the rotation. If Jon Gray comes up as expected, he could slide into the #4 or #5 slot. Those four pitchers should be trustworthy enough to keep the Rockies in the game and let the offense do their thing. That would put Kyle Kendrick at the back of the rotation where he belongs where his job is to eat innings regardless of the score.
Now back to the “to-trade or not” question at deadline. The entire infield is under cost control for the next three or so years. And three of them have Gold Gloves. Catchers are set with Hundley and McKenry next year with Tom Murphy a couple years away. Outfield are also under cost control for another two or three years. The exception is Drew Stubbs which we can easily afford to let him walk as Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon, and CarGo set for the next two years. Where does that leave the Rockies at trading deadline? It makes sense that Baby Bull and anybody in the bullpen the best baits to get pitchers. If we can get pitchers of the Shane Carle or Jairo Diaz quality we should be in pretty good shape. As sdcarp and Agbayani says, bullpen can be replaced easily. Colorado’s focus should be on the rotation.
Shall we presume that DLR, Bettis, and Gray be members of the rotation in 2016? That leaves us with just two spots to fill in. The top candidate would be Eddie Butler for the fourth slot. Tyler Chatwood? Rox make a trade with another team who has a failed experiment giving up Tyler Matzek much like we trade Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers for Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu. We struck gold with DJLM so it’s worth mining for some gems that are struggling for other teams.
From listening to the recent interviews with Jeff Bridich, he is not going to blow up the team for the sake of blowing up to make the fans happy. He understands Colorado needs pitching in a bad way to get out of the viscous losing cycle. Unless we are blown away (like Holliday for Street & Gonzalez or Jennings for Taveras, Bucholz, Hirsh), the current team just might be place holders until new talent moves up the pipeline. Talent such as Raimel Tapia, David Dahl, Brendan Rodgers, Ryan McMahon, Mike Nikorak, Antonia Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, Tyler Nevin, and other names you will see appear in the new Purp 30 when it comes out. Bottom line is Colorado doesn’t want to go the San Diego route where they gave away the farm and it has failed them big time even with the addition of James Shields.
It would behoove the management to wait out the year so Tulo and CarGo’s values can be maximized for the winter meetings. I see Bob in WV coming to get me and make me write repeatedly, “I will not have faith in the Rockies next year”. Enjoy your break and the Rockies start the second half with a three-game series in San Diego. Just one game separates those two teams in the basement. The Rockies are also just 3.5 games back of Arizona, believe it or not.
On a side note, Trevor Story and Raimel Tapia played well in the Futures All Star Game played today.