The Colorado Rockies are talented enough to make the postseason this year despite their early-season woes.
After battling through the month of May, the Rockies crawled back to .500 and currently sit with a 30-27 record.
However, May is over and the month of June signals the official start of the summer, which is where things start to heat up around the game. Baseball is regarded as a marathon, not a sprint, and once June rolls around most teams have established their identity for the season.
The Rockies’ have experienced the good, bad and ugly of a 162-game season through their first 57 games, but as the temperature begins to rise around the Mile High City, so will the pressure surrounding the club to follow-up last season’s performance with another trip to the postseason.
Colorado’s roster is loaded with talent, but the club has yet to fire on all cylinders this season which has inhibited their ability to sustain hot streaks. That said, the Rockies have been playing sound baseball as of late, winning eight of their last nine games on their current season-long 10-game homestand.
Their offense was the best in the National League in May, scoring 183 runs while averaging seven runs per game. The Rockies have always possessed a potent, high-caliber offense. The difference between making the playoffs and sitting on the couch come October will be the club’s starting pitching.
“I like the way we are swinging the bats and some of the efforts on the mound,” Manager Bud Black said. “We need to be more consistent on the mound. That’s going to be critical as important as us winning. … I feel this group of players is very capable of playing consistent baseball, but it starts with the starting pitching.”
Jeff Bridich and company rolled the dice on their rotation this season following an impressive showing from the starting five last year. The Rockies starters pitched to a 4.17 earned run average last season and helped push the club to their second consecutive postseason appearance.
That said, history does indeed repeat itself, and Rockies’ pitchers have historically struggled to experience consistent success when pitching at Coors Field. As 2019 has progressed, last season is looking much more like an outlier season for Colorado’s staff.
Even with the historical struggles of pitching at Coors Field, it’s hard to understand how the Rockies’ were comfortable entering a season loaded with expectations with Chad Bettis and Tyler Anderson as their back-end starters.
Sure Bettis and Anderson have been sharp in spurts, but their career numbers are less than stellar and given their history it’s ludicrous to try and understand how a team with postseason aspirations felt confident in their abilities to hold up over the course of a full season.
The Rockies were given a dose of reality rather quickly in 2019 after Bettis was a disaster and Anderson pitched to an ERA of 11.76 across five games.
Throw in Kyle Freeland’s struggles, and the Rockies find themselves at Deafcon 1 when it pertains to their starting rotation.
As it stands, the Rockies’ rotation’s 5.04 ERA is the highest in the National League alongside their .269 opponent’s batting average.
It’s remarkable to think that as bad as the Rockies’ rotation has been this season, the club has a record above .500 and is within a couple of games of the National League Wild Card.
Colorado has scuffled to put together a competent rotation all season long, but it’s about time the teams’ front office take a look at their options outside of the organization if they are serious about returning to the postseason.
Given the circumstances, and the Rockies’ ability to produce runs seemingly at will, it’s essential the club make a move to bolster their starting rotation. Why look any further than the team they are in the midst of a series with, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto is not in a position to contend for a postseason spot this season given their young roster and fellow opponents in the American League East.
The Blue Jays’ assets are readily available via trade, including starting pitcher Marcus Stroman.
Stroman, 28, has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, pitching to a 2.84 ERA.
Stroman pitched his first career game at Coors Field Saturday evening and lasted seven innings, allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits. The start was solid given it was his first ever outing at altitude.
Stroman is a fierce competitor who would be a big-time addition to the Rockies’ rotation should they figure out a way to pull the trigger on a trade.
There has been no public indication that the Rockies are interested in Stroman, but based upon his skillset and contract, he makes a lot of sense for the club this season and beyond.
“The thing that stands out to me is the athleticism,” Black said of Stroman prior to his start Saturday night. “He’s a natural athlete. He has a good arm and can manipulate the baseball, sink it, cut it and throw a slider. He’s not just a baseball payer; he’s an athlete.”
Stroman is under contract through the 2020 season and is only making $7.4 million this year, which is a far cheaper price tag then it would take to sign free agent pitcher, Dallas Keuchel.
The fit seems right and the money is reasonable. The real question is what, if anything, are the Rockies’ willing to deal on the trading block?
It is known the Rockies covet their prospects, maybe a little too much, and because of that the club has a lukewarm history when it comes to trades. Colorado is not known to be a big-time player at the trade deadline, but with the Rockies season currently hanging in the balance, the club should stop playing for tomorrow and make a deal to improve their play immediately.
Toronto is going to want prospects in any deal involving their star players, and the Rockies have a bevy of them. Between Peter Lambert, Riley Pint, Colton Welker and Garrett Hampson, the Rockies have a variety of prospects capable of playing different positions around the diamond.
The Rockies already have their infield set for the foreseeable future, as well as part of their outfield. Due to the glut of talent already at the big-league level, it might be difficult for prospects to crack the roster.
The club’s window of opportunity is in the present, and while having a medley of prospects is nice, it might be time for Colorado to take a swing on the trade market to improve their team this year as they enter the thick of the season.