Rox vs. Fish – First of Three, Time for Four Straight

I have a confession. I actually think this might be a decent team. No, not World Series or even playoffs good. But maybe .500 good. I know I seem crazy (according to my psychiatrist I am actually), but since the end of the losing streak the Rox continue to play decent baseball. I mean, they are even over.500 on the road (Yes, I know, they won’t end up there, but we can enjoy it while it lasts). No, I am starting to believe in this team because the four areas where they were truly bad a month ago, they are, for the most part, getting good play out of all four areas.

 

Starting Pitching

 

Look, it is still a work in progress and they have had to rely on help from people in AAA, but they also have some talent there, despite Tommy John of the Toe ending surgury to Jordan Lyles.

 

And of course Tyler Matzek’s issues (for those who are wanting to write-off Matzek or view last year as a complete flux – read this excellent article using info from FanGraphs that points out that unlike his past issues this appears totally a mechanical issue – if he could have kept pitching all the way from September to May he would still be very good young arm we saw last year and if they can get him to slow down the delivery and tighten up his arm angles then he could be back similar to last year…don’t forget how good he was at keeping runs off the board earlier this season despite the wildness). Anyways read the article here: http://www.purplerow.com/2015/6/1/8670839/tyler-matzek-pitching-mechanics-delivery-colorado-rockies

 

Jorge De La Rosa still isn’t DLR, but getting closer.

Eddie Butler…well, still not the 2013 version but maybe he is getting closer. We will find out tonight.

Kyle Kendrick…still Kyle Kendrick, and I think we can hope at best for 3 decent starts, 1 competitive one (5 runs) and one disaster

 

Then you have the replacements:

David Hale – look I am not sure why the Braves were so all fired to dump him as he was pretty good as the swing man last year and doesn’t walk anyone (gets a few Ks too), but for what we paid, I think it counts as a steal.

Chris Russin – I don’t get Russin. A 2009 4th rounder who made it to the Majors pretty quickly considering his draft status and had about a 4.60 ERA (stunk in relief) and the Cubs DFAd him in September. No one who hasn’t committed a felony gets DFAd like that in September. But he moves the ball around well and has done a good chance of getting the ball inside on righties.

 

Look, they don’t need a great starting corp. They need a staff to go out and give-up no more than 4 runs in 6 or 7 innings. That is possible with this group.

 

Oh…and if you have not been watching down in AAA some guy named Jon Grey has started to put it together, despite the offensive nature of the PCL. I am guessing soon we will see him up here.

 

And who knows we may yet have a Tyler Chatwood sighting. And maybe…another Matzek one.

 

But we have watched these games ourselves. They have gotten some very nice pitching performances and not a whole lot that makes you think there is no way they can continue.

 

Relief Pitching

 

Let us be honest. This isn’t going to the great crew we started the year off. Once Zero was hit with TJ the bullpen had to shift. At different times we have seen either awful performances or great ones from: Brooks Brown, Christian Friedrich, Boone Logan, and Rafeal Betencourt. Each seems to be just off at times. Friedrich hasn’t had the velocity he had last year. Brown had struggled with control in terms of pitches going where he wants. And Logan and Betencourt? I still think their bodies are getting back to pitching form after serious injuries.

 

Christian Bergan has been pretty good in a role I doubted he would succeed in. Yohan Flande less so, though I still think he should be a 1-inning lefty.

 

Axford has been pretty stellar, all you could ask especially with the loss of Zero.

 

And then there is the steady stream of AAA to Bigs guy like Diaz, Oberg and Kahnle. They will get it together eventually I believe. But in all three cases it is movement in and through the strike zone that is the issue.

 

As for LaTroy Hawkins, as long as he isn’t pitching the 9th I think he can help this team. They do need the group of Brown, Friedrich, Logan and Betencourt to get hot.

 

Offense

 

All season this has been disappointment (well, other than opening day). The low number of Free Taco games proved that. But it seems like the offense might be getting going.

 

The loss of Dickerson and Morneau clearly hurt the team. Dickerson looks close, allowing the team to have more options. Morneau? A third concussion like that you just don’t know. Fortunately it’s the one position there is depth with, though not defensively.

 

What we have seen this year is the offensive awakening of both Nolan Arenado and DJ. If we went back to 2013 as we anticipated his call-up, we all thought “good to great offense, okay defense.” What we got was “eh” offense in 2013 and “okay” in 2014 and defense that makes Brooks Robinson TIVO the games (no, really). But the offensive potential that made him a star prospect finally seems to be coming about. Last year he had 16 of 18 homers were at home, perhaps a sign of the injury or lack of confidence or just still learning. But we are seeing from Nolan is the guy we were led to believe he is, right down to the great control in the strike zone. And yet no one outside of the Mountain Time Zone knows who he is.

 

As for DJ, he had such a great eye and good bat control in the zone, though with minimal power, it was only a matter of time before we saw better offense (I know, I have never been a DJ fan, aside from the D and have thought about all the options at 2B for years, but I have to admit he is doing what they need). I never thought .300, but more in the .285 with closer to a .750 OPS overall.

 

We are also seeing that Nick Hunley might be the best bargain pick-up of the off-season. And Charlie has been good enough. Not as good as last year but good enough. Especially with the loss of a realistic option in CF (i.e., Drew Stubbs).

 

But what has been truly interesting and the reason I think this team can get close to 82 wins is the nearly total lack of help they have gotten from Tulo or CarGo. Though in the last week Tulo has finally gotten hot. Lets see if it can continue. As for CarGo, there are a lot of reasons he has stunk, not least of which is the bad timing resulting in his rolling over to 2B. But mostly teams are simply not pitching to him and even when they do he hits balls at people. Something like a .240 BA on balls in play.

 

It they can get anything near their potential from CarGo and Tulo…well, they should be even more interesting.

 

Look at the offensive numbers of the starters and there really isn’t any numbers among the regulars that you say can’t be even close to realistic.

 

Bench

The bench started off bad. But good changes have occurred. Update from Drew Stubbs is that he had 3 straight games of 3-3, so maybe….maybe there is something in his bat still. History tells us the team will need him again.

 

Brandon Barnes has clearly paid above his head. We will see a regression to norm for him, but hopefully that will be as a part-time player where Corey Dickerson takes the lead.

 

The Wilin Rosario and Ben Paulsen have done a solid job at 1B. Paulsen has always been an enigma to me, as he has a nice swing (though at times he looks as bad as possible at bat from pitch to pitch), and a good power stroke. But can he be a full-time 1B at this level? I think the Rox might be starting to wonder as well (but can he please shave off the caterpillar on his face?). He is still just 26 (27 after the season) and all he has done while playing at Coors is hit home runs and drive in runs. He was just the 90th player taken in 2009, so he isn’t a prospect, but…well, you just never know. And Wilin…well, he is Wilin and I still await the trade that will send him along his way so he can open another spot on the bench but I would think closer to an .800 OPS is what we should expect.

 

And Michael McKenry? Looks a lot like last year so, sustainable? Sure. Rafael Ynoa? Who knows. Daniel Descalso? Eh.

 

So aside from Barnes, the bench looks sutainable and much better than just a month ago.

 

So tonight they start this series just 6 games back of the Dodgers and 4.5 from the Wild Card. At 24-28 after that dreadful late April to early May, this team looks suddenly…interesting.

 

Tonight they face-off against Tom Koehler who has done well against the Rox. Blackmon, DJ, Nolan and Tulo have done well against him.

 

David Phelps (former Yanks pitcher 2-2 with 3.50 vs Kendrick) on Saturday at 2:30 (game of the week?)

 

Then the Sunday lineup against rookie, 0-2, 7.24 ERA Jose Urena (vs. DLR)

 

Nice series sweep, go into next week with a 4 game and 5 of 6 streak.

[sac_happens]

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ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
5 years ago

I hate when a few of you guys start talking about sweeps and we haven’t even won the first game yet.

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago

Aargh! And young Giancarlo Stanton, like the younger Joc Pederson just out of town, is savoring the prospect of batting against our flyball prone pitching staff in the rarified airs of Coors Field for three straight games. Perhaps at the end of the series we’re tallying up Stanton’s homeruns in terms of mileage, not feet????

Bob K.
Bob K.
5 years ago
sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob K.

Just say “no.”

Bob K.
Bob K.
5 years ago

Eddie Butler so far has never pitched more than 6 innings in a game at the MLB level. When he pitches 6 innings he is 3-0. When he pitches fewer than 6 innings, he is 0-5.

Bob K.
Bob K.
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob K.

Butler is now 0-6 when pitching fewer than 6 innings.

ProgMatinee
ProgMatinee
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob K.

Pretty sure the correlation is reversed from your statement.

Bob K.
Bob K.
5 years ago
Reply to  ProgMatinee

I couldn’t remember where I read that information and should have linked to it but I didn’t. It is just slightly incorrect. So far in 2015 (I didn’t check how he did in 2014) Butler has not pitched more than 6 innings in any game. When he has pitched 6 innings, he is 2-0 with one ND. In games where he has pitched fewer than 6 innings he is now 1-6 since he did get the win in his first… Read more »

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago

Yuck. Miserable performance by Butler after a great opening inning. And wow, another Cy Young grade performance on the mound by an opposing pitcher in hitter friendly Coors Field….

RocketMan
RocketMan
5 years ago

Looks like the annual Rockies Charity Golf Day ruined everyone’s swing……

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

My DirecTV mercifully cut out just as the tarp hit the field and ROOT cut away (with barely a segue) to their filler programming again.

Julian
Julian
5 years ago

Good news bad news for Jon Gray tonight: 6.2 innings pitched and only 2 earned runs, and only one walk, with 3 strikeouts, but 10 hits, but only one double and one home run and 8 singles, so he was able to minimize damage.

sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Julian

10 hits (8 singles) and 3Ks.

Think about that for a minute.

We’ve taken a power, “easy” 98 MPH arm and turned him into a ground ball pitcher. Congratulations Rockies. Your reputation as the worst pitcher development franchise in Major League Baseball is alive and well.

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago
Reply to  sdcarp

carp, you have a point. Gray last night: 11 groundouts, 3 flyouts. Just 2 extra base hits against him (including a 7th inning solo HR that knocked him out of the game). So yes, they appear to be on their way to turning him into Aaron Cook. Is the problem that Coors Field gets into pitchers’ heads? Or is it that its gotten into Rox managements’ heads? While every organization would try to get top pitching prospects to learn to… Read more »

sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

It’s TOTALLY in the heads of Rox management. It’s criminal what they’re doing to Gray. They’re idiots.

sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

Unrelated – but eye catching – that Jason Hammel fellow we used to have has emerged in an elite (not just useful – elite) pitcher. There was lots of fanfare this offseason when the Cubs signed Lester. But take a close look at what’s going on at Wrigley. Hammel is a freakin’ stud. Much better than Lester.

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
5 years ago

I’m still watching this silly game where all the Rox hitters are still losing at home. Let’s go Rockies and walk off 7-6. Ha ha ha ha

Gary
Gary
5 years ago

Time to swat Butler for Gray and give him an audition and see if he can run with it.Or start using Hale in rotation.Butler has great stuff and will be solid but just not ready for a team that needs some pitching that eliminates 6-0 holes to dig out of every start.

Bill
Bill
5 years ago

Was out last night and when I got in the car Jack and Jeff were talking about how hard it was raining they could hardly see. I could hardly see driving home so I turned them off and made it safely. Luckily there weren’t a lot of people cruising on Friday night. But like an idiot I ended up watching the end of the game when they finally resumed. As my wife keeps asking me, Why? I guess I’m addicted.… Read more »

Agbayani
Agbayani
5 years ago

Yep, Jason Hammel has been excellent. And remember which team (coaching staff?) got him over the hump to become a solid-to-very-good starter … none other than the Rockies and Apodaca.

sdcarp
sdcarp
5 years ago
Reply to  Agbayani

I criticized Jim Tracy from time-to-time (I hated his “got to always have a catcher on the bench” phobia), but Tracy understood the importance of getting his starters through 6 innings. A clearly remember those Bob Apodaca trips to the mound (not just for Hammels – for all the guys). Many times they seemed quite animated. I was of the opinion many were simply pep talks – not real pitching technical stuff.

Bob K.
Bob K.
5 years ago

Rockies reinstate Charlie Culberson from the 60 day DL and outrighted him to Albuquerque.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/06/rockies-outright-charlie-culberson.html

Also Diamondbacks have DFAed Jordan Pacheco.

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