Winning is paramount in the eyes of Colorado Rockies’ superstar third baseman, Nolan Arenado.
Even with the Rockies on track to barely eclipse the 70-win mark in what has been a disappointment of a season, all Arenado wants to do is win, and do it as much as he can.
Arenado understands the outlook for his club the rest of the way in 2019, but his desires and commitment to the club have not changed despite the historically bad play Colorado has endured throughout the year.
“The goal is to win as many games as you can,” Arenado said. “There’s a lot to play for. It’s easy to find meaning in these games for me. Obviously, I want to make the playoffs, but as the season has gone on it’s looking like it’s not going to happen at all.”
Arenado stunned the baseball world when he re-signed with the Rockies prior to the start of the campaign, forgoing the opportunity to test free agency following the completion of the season.
After making the playoff’s in 2017 and 2018, Arenado was sold on the future of the franchise, which he felt was in a position to compete for a title.
However, almost nothing has gone right for Colorado this season. Between opening up the season on a sour note, dealing with an array of injuries and seemingly falling from grace all in the matter of a few months – the Rockies have evolved from a postseason threat to a club with major questions about its future.
The Rockies have just nine wins in their last 34 games played and sit with a record of 53-65. While there was the expectation the club would regress to a degree after the departure of key fixtures such as Adam Ottavino, DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra, the severity of the dropoff was certainly unexpected by those within the organization.
“I think our team is better than our record indicates, but I don’t think we are as good as some of these really good teams,” Arenado said. “We have some young guys that are getting better. At the same time we are a little bit behind. That’s just what it is.”
While the Rockies’ offense has been inconsistent, the big boys in the lineup are doing their fair share. Arenado is hitting above .300 and has knocked in 87 runs this season. Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl have also put together solid seasons and joined Arenado as members of the National League All-Star team.
Pitching has been the Rockies’ biggest weakness in year’s past, and it’s plagued the club again this season.
“We have to pitch well,” Manager Bud Black said. “Not just a couple guys, we need the 13-man pitching staff to pitch well. You go on runs when the offense picks up the pitching staff on a given night and the pitchers will pick up the offense on a given night. You have to sync things up.”
The Rockies’ pitching staff owns a 5.56 earned run average this season, the highest mark in the National League. Although the club’s pitching has been putrid, Arenado is not making any excuses. Instead, he appeared perplexed when speaking with reporters about the state of the team this season.
“As a group, we need to get better,” Arenado said. “We have not really put it together, I always felt like we were going to, but obviously we have not so I think that’s a sign it was not meant to be… It’s like we pitch good and don’t hit or hit and don’t pitch, but to me, that is a team that is not able to put it together. It’s just what it is.”
Arenado notices the Rockies’ biggest drop off against teams in title contention and within the NL West. Prior to starting their current six-game homestand, the Rockies were pummeled on the road against the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres.
The Rockies were bludgeoned by the 2017 World Series champions and outscored 25-9 in the two-game set. The team’s poor play continued over to a four-game series versus the San Diego Padres where the Rockies emerged victorious in just one of the four games played.
“It’s frustrating for sure,” Arenado said. “The Padres are getting better. It shows that we have a long way to go and we have to find ways to continue to get better. Usually the last few years we have been able to beat the Padres. Now you can tell they are making some pretty good moves and they are starting to get better.
“It’s just a sign that we have to get better somehow because there are 3-4 teams we have to deal with because they are all in front of us in the standings. We need to start playing better baseball.”
While it’s possible the Rockies could get hot and go on some sort of run, the end result will likely be no different. The Rockies are currently in last place in the NL West and have less than a one percent chance of making the postseason, according to FanGraphs.
The 2019 season has been eerily similar to Rockies’ seasons in the past where the club has failed to live up to expectations.
Arenado, the cornerstone of the franchise, is not happy with the club’s results this season and it’s worth noting he has an opt-out in his contract following the 2021 season and each season after that.
There will be immense pressure on the club to turn things around in 2020 to return to the postseason and keep their star player happy.
It’s unknown what 2019 will mean for the Rockies in the future. Will it be a mere bump in the road or a season that derailed the promise of the current Rockies’ core completely?
The only thing that is certain at the moment is the pressure on the club to live up to the expectations set by their players, front office and fans for the current era of Rockies’ baseball.