Rockies swept again, fall below .500

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela (49) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies—despite being swept in a four-game, home-and-home series against the Houston Astros—entered the weekend still a game over .500 and in a position gain some ground in the National League West had they been able to, in some way, right the ship in a road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Three days later, Colorado is sitting at rock bottom, ending up on the wrong end of yet another series sweep after blowout loss to the Dodgers.

Though the wheels have been falling off for the Rockies for the better part of a couple of weeks now, there were several positives—the starting pitching, for instance, was excellent through the first 23 games of the season—that the team and its fans could hang a hat on. But, even that pretty much went completely to hell during the most recent turn through the rotation; aside from Kyle Freeland’s quality start in a loss on Saturday, Rockies starters allowed a staggering 25 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings over their last four games, good for an 11.44 ERA. Sadly, Colorado’s bullpen, which had its own stretch of dominance earlier in the season, wasn’t much better against the Dodgers. Tyler Kinley and Ashton Goudeau combined to allow five runs in the finale Sunday, the day after Daniel Bard gave up a walk-off home run to Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger.

That once unprecedented and even somewhat vaunted Rockies pitching staff now has a middling ERA of 4.65 that only continues to rise. And the offense just isn’t hitting enough to make up for it. Colorado scored seven runs in three games against the Dodgers over the weekend. Though there were some positives, such as Sam Hilliard hitting a pair of homers and Trevor Story showing signs of coming out of slump, the Rockies struck out 14 times on Friday and generally struggled to make much hard contact until Sunday, when it was much too late.

The season certainly isn’t over for the Rockies, and to some degree, this stretch in the schedule that featured seven losses in seven days to Astros and Dodgers should’ve been expected. But there is very little room for error going forward, and the Rockies will have to show a sense of urgency beyond shuffling deck chairs in the form of switching out inexperienced relievers and mediocre position players. In reality, it’ll likely be up to the players who are on the roster now to pull the nose up on this thing. If that group takes on its 2017 and 2018 form, that can happen. But if they can’t dig out of this hole and continue to let things spiral downward as was the case in the summer of 2019, we’ve probably already seen the best the 2020 Rockies have to offer—and could be in line to see things get a lot worse.

Sunday extras

  • After a win on Aug. 11, the 12-5 Rockies led the NL West by a game and a half over the Dodgers. Since then, Colorado has gone 1-10 while L.A. has completely flipped the script, going 11-1. The Rockies are now eight games out of first place 28 games into the season. In 2019, Colorado didn’t fall to eight games back until after Game No. 43.
  • Nolan Arenado sat out the Rockies’ 11-3 loss on Sunday. The star third baseman is really struggling to get going this season, posting a .218/.259/.455 line through 112 plate appearances. Recent history gives us reason to believe, though, that he could pick up the pace soon; through 110 plate appearances las season, Arenado was hitting a paltry .240/.300/.340. Over his next 33 games, he went on to blister opposing pitchers to the tune of a .341/.391/.764 line.
  • Rockies pitchers gave up seven home runs in the series finale on Sunday, tying a club record for the most homers allowed in a single game. The Dodgers were responsible the last time it happened, too, on Sept. 2 of last season. That sort of amplifies the Rockies’ recent poor performance against L.A.; dating back to dropping the NL West tiebreaker at the end of 2018, Colorado is 4-19 in its last 23 games against the Dodgers.