Colorado Rockies poor play marked by lack of preparation

Apr 20, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies pitching coach Darryl Scott (70) makes a call to the bullpen in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Not a lot of good things happened for the Colorado Rockies on a road trip against two of the National League’s worst teams.

They only managed a pair of wins in seven games and suffered some truly perplexing and frustrating losses.

The silver linings?

Well, they are few and far between. 

Chad Kuhl continues to be a solid starter, but nobody else in the rotation has managed to join him, all of them stuck on the rollercoaster ride except for Marquez who hasn’t even been able to experience the highs.

Daniel Bard and Tyler Kinley continue to dominate.

Bard bounced back after a battle with some bad ones back in Denver. He now has 11 saves and has lowered his ERA to 3.12, even more impressive when ERA+ adjusts it to 150, well above the league average.

Kinley, meanwhile, has been absolutely tremendous. Thanks to baseball’s cruel sense of humor, he gave up only his second earn of the entire season against Pittsburgh on some poorly-hit balls but it ended up being the decisive run in that game. Go figure.

Of course, one massive issue that is growing increasingly problematic is that these two are, right this moment, the only two members of the Rockies bullpen who are pitching well. In fact, it’s not just that they are the only two going well but that they are the only two who aren’t giving up runs nearly every single time out.

Carlos Estevez blew a three-run lead and Justin Lawrence kicked the game away with a three-run homer of his own. Robert Stephenson had a pair of outings with multi-run dingers allowed. Ashton Goudeau and Ty Blach have been decent at times but mostly pretty brutal throughout most of the season.

So, who exactly is manager Bud Black supposed to hand the baseball to in the sixth or seventh, especially if the team is down by a run or two.

Oddly enough, the offense has been mostly fine.

Sure, there are going to be bad days and each individual is going to go through slumps. C.J. Cron, as much as he has been one of the best hitters in the NL, has really struggled on the road. Elias Diaz is currently swamped in a doozy of a slump. Randal Grichuk puts together a nice at-bat but has yet to show the power he was acquired for.

Still, the run output from game-to-game has been a lot more acceptable than it has been the last three years. The team OPS+ is at 98 which would be one of the best marks in franchise history.

The worst aspect of the position players has been uncharacteristically bad defense. The defensive mistakes and mental blunders are compounding with the poor starting pitching and the mess of a bullpen to create a scenario where the Rockies can only win if they play a perfect baseball game. And they’ve played very few.

And while each of these elements might seem like a completely different part of the game, there is one through line that is becoming clearer and clearer. The Rockies don’t look prepared.

Most analysts, including yours truly, had this team missing the postseason due to a lack of star talent and depth. But so far, that is not why they are losing. 

They are losing because far too often their starting pitcher is taking the mound and blowing the game in the first few innings. They are losing because, no matter how hard the offense fights back in it, the bullpen and defense are undoing all that hard work.

Which begs the question about what the Colorado club is doing to prepare.

The dynamic between hitters and their coaches, or pitchers and theirs, is truly complicated and one that most fans and even media members never really get a great feel for. But at some point you have to ask why so many of these guys, especially the pitchers, who have achieved success throughout their careers, suddenly look incapable of forming or adapting a game plan.

Why have there been so many games when the rotation, which was supposed to be the strength of this team, cost the Rockies game almost as soon as it began? Is each guy just going through a totally isolated bad stretch? Are all of the issues unrelated?

The walks are up. The wild pitches are up. Outside of Kuhl, Kinley, and Bard, every single pitcher on the staff is performing under their career numbers.

It may be time to start asking if the coaches in charge of getting these guys ready to be the best version of themselves are failing in that task.

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