We need to dispel the myth that the Colorado Rockies woes this season have anything to do with their pitching.
The Rockies have been in the bottom-5 all season for runners left on base. If we’re honest with ourselves, a team that performs as poorly as the Rockies with runners in scoring position has no business in a tight September division race.
Here we are, though, Colorado was fighting for the NL West right up until this three-game set with the Dodgers. One win of the three would have kept the Rockies in the hunt. Monday’s game was a disaster with Jon Gray blowing up for 6 earned runs in the first three innings. Tuesday’s game saw another outstanding performance from Rockies starter and sneaky Cy Young candidate Kyle Freeland.
Wednesday saw Tyler Anderson take the mound for the Rockies and work six innings of three hit, two-run ball. It was a standout performance for the struggling Anderson and Colorado could not capitalize.
Once again the Rockies managed only four hits and two runs. Even the two runs are a bit of an overstatement as it took a walk and an error by the Dodgers in the first to generate the runs. Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler allowed zero earned runs and notched 12 big strikeouts.
The Rockies have a history of developing outstanding players and then shipping them off to competitive teams. Ubaldo Jiminez, Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday spring to mind. Nolan Arenado gave an interview to Nick Groke of The Atlantic at the end of June where Arenado made the following comment(s):
"I’m tired of coming to the ballpark and losing,” he said. “We work too hard as a group to experience that. I’m not saying I go home questioning, like, ‘I don’t like this place.’ I love it here. But yeah, I want to win. And the more we lose, the more I — if you lose all the time, nobody wants to be there."
It felt like a shot over the bow for Rockies management. Nolan doesn’t like to lose and if losing continues, he doesn’t want to be here.
The Rockies responded by grinding out wins, more wins than losses and they overtook the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead.
While Arenado’s defense remains among the best in the league, his bat has gone silent and he has surrendered top-billing on the roster to shortstop phenom Trevor Story. Before Nolan’s meaningless single in the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s game, he had struck out five consecutive times. Arenado has 116 strikeouts on the season, already eclipsing his career high. In his last seven games, he is hitting just .200 with 2 RBI and 8 strikeouts.
As incompetent as the Colorado front office has seemed over the years, this one isn’t on them. When Arenado was hitting, Colorado was winning, when he stopped, Story kept the team going. Now that Story is injured and Arenado is reduced to producing strikeouts, the offensive punch of the Rockies has been devastated.
Arenado may well want out of Colorado but it’s unfortunate that he’s not a part of the winning he wants to see. Leveraging a guy that disappears in September is going to be difficult, Colorado is going to get less-than-market for Arenado if he forces a move in the offseason. It’s soured the perception of the Rox latest star that seems on his way out.
While it’s still possible the Rockies could secure a postseason berth, it seems unlikely, given the current state of the offensive production, the injury to Story and the minimal time left to recover.
We want to see the Rockies win, too. We don’t have any influence on that, however, we have to count on the players to make that happen.
Maybe it’s time to give Ryan McMahon a shot to be the next big thing to leave if Nolan expects the Rockies to win around his dismal slump.
On the other hand, maybe it would be easier for Arenado and the Rockies to step-up and just, you know, win here.