Two series are etched in stone, neither a winning effort from the Colorado Rockies.
In their opening four-game slate with the Maimi Marlins, they worked a split, falling in the latter two contests. Against the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game set, the garnered a pair of loses and a late-inning win to avoid a sweep.
After their opening road trip, the Rockies sit at 3-4, a record not far off their 4-3 mark in 2018’s pair of road series at the year’s onset.
Comparing those two sets of results, obvious differences exist. Last year, the team scored 31 runs, an average of 4.4 runs per game. That mark has fallen to 2.4 this year.
Part of the problem has been the injury of Daniel Murphy. Before his dismissal to the injured list with a fractured finger, Murphy consistently put the ball in play, setting the tone for the rest of the lineup perched in the two-hole.
Without him, the multiple players in his stead have combined for seven strikeouts.
Ahead are a pair of areas the Rockies have hit and subsequently missed through their opening road trip on the coast.
Across Major League Baseball, there are likely five rotations that boast a superior top two than the Rockies’ Kyle Freeland and German Marquez. The Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers (when healthy), New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians all pass the test.
As far as skill and youth are concerned, the Rockies slot right behind those five, with the youth aspect pushing their rotation past the Dodgers and Indians, possibly the Nationals as well.
On Wednesday, Marquez once again proved his worth, just a day after signing a 5-year, $43 million extension. In his second start of the year against the Rays, the right-handed fireballer tossed seven innings, allowed three hits and striking out seven. Through two starts, his line sits at 13 innings, one earned run, five hits allowed and 14 punchouts.
Across the league, the whiff mark tops Justin Verlander and the five hits allowed beats out Max Scherzer and are equal to that of Jacob deGrom. While he is not at their level yet, it appears to be only a matter of time until he nears their output.
Freeland has continued his success from last year as well tossing 11.2 innings of three-run ball, only two earned, with 15 strikeouts already. He too as only allowed five hits in two starts.
The pair have carried the Rockies to three wins thus far, despite a lack of production at the plate.
A seldom bright spot at the plate has been David Dahl.
In seven starts, one in center field and the remainder in left, Dahl has hits in five of them, a spree that ended in the last two games.
Several freak injuries sank the stock of Dahl as an up-and-coming outfielder for the Rockies, a trend that has reversed course in both the latter half of last year and the beginning of 2019.
The hitting, or lack thereof, from the Rockies lineup has been well documented. As a team, they have scored 17 runs in the first seven games, with six runs apiece in their first two games elevating the total drastically.
Among their problems at the plate, the Rockies have seen a juxtaposition to their power output from last year. At several times in 2018, games were a home-run-or-bust ordeal en route to an eighth-place league finish in homers (210). In the latest campaign, the power has disappeared.
Across the league, 24 teams have hit more long balls than the Rockies (2). Stalwarts Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon and the aforementioned Dahl have combined for one, the other coming on a game-clinching shot from Chris Iannetta.
Outside of power numbers, the quartet has combined to go 27-for-109 (.248).
The lack of home runs has brought the club’s glaring strikeout numbers to the forefront. In their series against the Rays, they registered double-digit strikeout totals in each. The trend is an alarming one after they only had 12 punchouts in their opening two games combined against the Marlins.
In 2018, the 30 MLB clubs combined to strike out 41,207 times, a mark that set the record for a single season in league history, beating out the 2017 high of 40,104.
If the Rockies were merely striking out, while providing runs through home runs and doubles, the problem would be mute. The game is changing and they would be merely following its course.
That has not been the case. A deficit in each area is largely responsible for their lack of production at the plate.
Without fixing one of them, the woes will likely continue.