Pitching has been the main culprit throughout Rockies’ slide

With their loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, the Colorado Rockies fell to 16-17 since the All-Star break. A team that was once 21 games above .500 (47-26 on June 20) and held a 0.5-game lead in the NL West is now 68-56 and just 3.5 games ahead of those same Brewers in the Wild Card.

So, how did we get here? To this point where the playoffs could be a fight to the bitter end? And who is to blame?

The slide began on June 21, with a loss to the Diamondbacks (who trail the Rockies by a game in the Wild Card). That loss was followed by another seven in a row. They’ve been piling up losses at a steady clip ever since. In 51 games since June 21 the Rockies are 21-30.

In those 51 games, Colorado has hit .274 as a team and averaged 5.1 runs per game. That’s just a shade below their .274 and 5.3 averages in the 73 games leading up to the slide.

Their per-game averages for hits, extra-base hits and other primary batting stats bear similar evidence. They’re leaving about one extra runner on base every five games, which explains why their per-game RBI total is down by the same number.

Batting: Games 1-73

G Result AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA LOB
73 47-26 2502 387 689 131 17 88 373 209 623 0.275 465
Average 34.3 5.3 9.4 1.8 0.2 1.2 5.1 2.9 8.5 6.4

Stats via Baseball Reference

Batting: Games 74-124

G Result AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA LOB
51 21-30 1749 261 480 95 11 59 250 170 457 0.274 348
Average 34.3 5.1 9.4 1.9 0.2 1.2 4.9 3.3 9 6.8

Stats via Baseball Reference

Their slash line (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) hasn’t changed much between those two time periods, either. In fact, their on-base percentage has actually climbed nearly 10 points.

Slash Line: Games 1-73

G Result BA OBP SLG
73 47-26 .275 .334 .447

Stats via Baseball Reference

Slash Line: Games 74-124

G Result BA OBP SLG
51 21-30 .274 .342 .443

Stats via Baseball Reference

Offensively, the team that is nine games below .500 since June 21 is virtually no different from the one that was 20 games above .500 entering that day.

Pitching, on the other hand, has seen a noticeable downturn during those two periods.

Opposing hitters are batting nearly 40 points higher and scoring 1.3 more earned runs per game over the last 51 games against Rockies pitchers.

Pitching: Games 1-73

G CG Result IP AB H BAA R ER ERA
73 1 47-26 652.1 2450 609 0.249 311 298 4.11
Average 8.9 33.6 8.3 4.3 4.1

Stats via Baseball Reference

Pitching: Games 74-124 (Stats via Baseball Reference)

G CG Result IP AB H BAA R ER ERA
51 0 21-30 451.1 1767 506 0.286 287 273 5.44
Average 8.8 34.6 9.9 5.6 5.4

Stats via Baseball Reference

Things have grown increasingly worse for the pitching staff after the All-Star break, both for the starters and the relievers.

Pitching: Pre- and Post-All-Star Splits, Starters and Relievers

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER
1st Half 52 39 .571 4.45 30 812.1 788 419 402
2nd Half 16 17 .485 5.22 8 291.1 327 179 169
1st Half,GS 40 30 .571 4.49 0 519.1 516 269 259
2nd Half,GS 11 11 .500 5.40 0 173.1 190 108 104
1st Half,GR 12 9 .571 4.39 30 293 272 150 143
2nd Half,GR 5 6 .455 4.96 8 118 137 71 65

Stats via Baseball Reference

Since the break, the starters are also allowing more home runs per nine innings, and the WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) are up for both starters and relievers, while strikeouts per nine are down significantly for the relievers.

Expanded Pitching: Pre- and Post-All-Star Splits, Starters and Relievers

Split HR HR9 BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W
1st Half 107 1.2 313 716 1.355 7.9 2.29
2nd Half 48 1.5 109 254 1.497 7.8 2.33
1st Half,GS 70 1.2 198 414 1.375 7.2 2.09
2nd Half,GS 33 1.7 62 147 1.454 7.6 2.37
1st Half,GR 37 1.1 115 302 1.321 9.3 2.63
2nd Half,GR 15 1.1 47 107 1.559 8.2 2.20

Stats via Baseball Reference

Greg Holland, Colorado’s All-Star closer, has struggled in particular since the break. Holland’s 35 saves are still the best in the National League (and only six away from tying the Rockies’ single-season record of 41), but his numbers since the All-Star break are frighteningly different.

Greg Holland: Pre- and Post-All Star Splits

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER
1st Half 1 1 .500 1.62 28 33.1 18 6 6
2nd Half 1 3 .250 7.94 7 11.1 13 10 10

Stats via Baseball Reference

Holland has allowed as many home runs in one-third the number of innings pitched and his ERA has ballooned. His WHIP is also up significantly.

Greg Holland Expanded: Pre- and Post-All Star Splits

Split HR HR9 BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W
1st Half 2 0.5 16 43 1.020 11.6 2.69
2nd Half 2 1.6 7 14 1.765 11.1 2.00

Stats via Baseball Reference

Holland isn’t the only Rockies reliever to struggle since the break. Jake McGee, who was holding down the eighth inning through most of the first half, has also seen big spikes in his ERA and WHIP.

Jake McGee: Pre- and Post-All Star Splits

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER
1st Half 0 0 NA 2.70 1 36.2 28 11 11
2nd Half 0 2 .000 7.00 0 9 9 7 7

Stats via Baseball Reference

Jake McGee Expanded: Pre- and Post-All Star Splits

Split HR HR9 BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W
1st Half 3 0.7 9 44 1.009 10.8 4.89
2nd Half 1 1.0 4 8 1.444 8.0 2.00

Stats via Baseball Reference

Chris Rusin, who was one of Colorado’s most trustworthy arms out of the bullpen in the first half, has also fallen off some lately.

Chris Rusin: Pre- and Post-All Star Splits

Split W L W-L% ERA SV IP H R ER
1st Half 3 0 1.000 2.30 1 47 32 13 12
2nd Half 0 0 3.10 0 20.1 24 10 7

Stats via Baseball Reference

Rusin’s ERA has spiked nearly a full point and his WHIP is up considerably since the break. He is striking out more hitters, but he’s also allowed more home runs in the second half than he allowed in more than twice as many innings through the first half of the season.

Chris Rusin Expanded: Pre- and Post-All Star Splits

Split HR HR9 BB SO WHIP SO9 SO/W
1st Half 3 0.6 13 35 0.957 6.7 2.69
2nd Half 4 1.8 4 18 1.377 8.0 4.50

Stats via Baseball Reference

Holland, McGee and Rusin are critical to the Rockies rebounding from their rough patch since 20 and their especially rough stretch since the All-Star break.

If those three can return to their form from April and May, Colorado should be sitting pretty heading down the stretch. If they continue to struggle, and the rest of the pitching staff remains on the downhill, a playoff run could be in jeopardy.

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