Smoke and Mirrors?

It says more about the NL West than the Rockies, that after going 4-11 in the last 15 games they still find themselves sitting in third place in the division, only four games back from the division leading Diamondbacks.  You try to pull that stunt in the NL East and you’ll end up battling it out for last place come seasons end.

One theory is that we are seeing the actual Rockies in all their glory(?) playing the way they were built and destined to contend.  That the success in the beginning of the season was just “smoke and mirrors”, and the real team has now chosen to stand up and take a bow, bowing out of game after game with a whimper and a shrug.  The theory seems to make sense, given how the Rockies universe seems to be “self-correcting” after defying everyone’s expectations, fans and critics alike, by blasting their way above .500 for the bulk of the season.  Pitchers were pitching above 75 pitches without their arms falling off and hitters were launching moon-shots both at home and away.  Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, so on and so forth.

And then we all woke up.

The low point of the season might have just happened on Thursday.  With a brutal 10 day road trip behind them the Rockies, having dropped 5 of 7 on the swing, came home to play the Mets in a makeup game from the Colorado Game of Thrones Winter of April.  The same Mets team that they easily swept back then looked like not only our equals on the field, but even a few clicks better.  How could this be?  With Chatwood on the mound and Coors all around, the team showed once again that the “Blake Street Bullies” have left the building and the “Blake Street Silencio’s” have arrived.

Can the poor play be blamed on Tulo’s broken rib, Fowler’s jacked up arm and Betancourt’s groin?  Or can it be that the team has a difficult time acclimating when going back and forth between altitudes, so the first games of each home and away series are always going to be difficult?  Or are the Rockies just flat-out bad?

Chatwood, on Thursday, was exactly what he needed to be.  He went six innings and gave up one run on four hits.  His ground-out to fly-out ratio of 10-3 should be blueprint for any and all pitchers wanting to take on Coors in earnest.  Sadly, Chatwood couldn’t continue past the sixth.  Not only was his pitch-count in triple digits, but he took a line-drive off his push-off leg that looked less-than-pleasant.  He did finish the inning after playing leg-pinball with the sphere, but there was no way he would come back to finish the game.

Sadly, that is pretty much the only scenario that would have made sense for a team that was up 2-1 and couldn’t score to save their bacon.  If you can’t hit, you better darn well pitch, but practically every arm in the bullpen lately has been suspect.  With the exception of Brothers, who has been pitching out of his skull, most of the pen is a crapshoot.  Belisle, the one arm in the bullpen over the past fistful of years that anyone would turn to in a close game, has all but lost it.  He could be injured and not saying anything, or he could just be done.  The fact is that in the last seven games he’s come in to pitch he’s gone six and 2/3rd’s while giving up 12 runs!  That’s an ERA of 16.20 and a win/loss of 0-3.  In the previous 13 games he went 14 innings and gave up one earned run, a 0.64 ERA and a win/loss of 3-0.  Either something happened on June 7th (the dividing line between the two stats) that he isn’t talking about that has resulted in him being injured in some way, or he is mentally or physically unable to keep the team in it.  Whatever it is, it is just one piece of the disturbing puzzle, a piece that came in on Thursday to blow the “lead” the Rockies had by giving up two runs and taking the loss.

Cargo slumping, Rutledge playing at Modesto Nut levels, Helton retiring early at the plate and Colvin making EYj look like a batting phenom are all contributing to the smoke and/or mirror part of the equation.  Hopefully several of the offensive offenders can right the ship before Cuddy decides he’s done with his hitting streak and Rosario swings back to bad swinging.

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8 years ago
Reply to  jaredean

Excellent reading, JD. I’m on the fence about what they can and/or will do, but this stretch in the division will likely tell the story, as you say.

Belisle was quoted in the Post as saying something like “This is where I need to be mentally tough” and that he likes that challenge. Or something. Hope the mental toughness translates into a return of the guy we relied on for a long time now.

8 years ago
Reply to  jaredean

Just tweeted it out to my…ohh….like 10 followers….:) Great read as always. Because I have learned to set the bar REALLY low with my favorite sports teams, I’m with Ed the Ump on this one…David Copperfield on the hill for the Rockies. I would gladly be wrong but we’ll see. That being said, hope doesn’t cost anything, so I’ll be watching tonight!

Take care all.

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