What’s the deal with the Rockies?
For the first month of the season, Colorado pitched better than we’ve seen in a majority of the 25 years they’ve been in existence. Yet, the offense — which is usually the mainstay of the team — stunk like hot garbage in the sun.
Then, offensively, things changed, when we hit May.
The Rockies broke out of their team-wide hitting slump in Chicago, first winning 3-1 on May 1, and then exploding out of that slump with an 11-run, 15-hit performance to win the series over the Cubs. Those 11 runs and 15 hits were each season-highs, which included fireworks and four home runs. Slump, over, right?
After a day off, the Rocks continued rollin’ with an eight-run performance and narrow 8-7 victory over the Mets in New York. Colorado continued the hot pitching, and not only won the series, but swept the Mets. Through the first five games of the month of May, the Rockies were 5-0 and enjoyed five straight quality starts from their pitchers; this was the best they’ve played all year long.
Then, they came back home and won their sixth straight over the LA Angels. That’s when things, again, changed.
Last Wednesday, the Rockies weren’t just beaten, they were blown out and shut-out, 8-0 by the Angels of Anaheim. That game, everything fell apart. Tyler Anderson pitched only five innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs before getting pulled. Meanwhile, the offense managed to produce eight hits, but it was their knack for leaving runners in scoring position which left them high and dry. That night, Colorado left 11 on base and went 0-12 with RISP, which might as well stand for RIP. As in, if a team can’t produce runs, they’re dead in the water.
Then came in the Milwaukee Brewers, who the Rockies may find themselves in a fight with for a Wildcard berth much later in the season. The Brew Crew won 5-2 as both the Rockies’ pitching and hitting struggled on the same day, setting up Colorado’s worst loss of the season.
On Friday night, the Rockies were on fire. They led 9-3 through four innings, doing everything necessary from the plate to win. They hit singles, doubles, triples and even a few home runs in those first four innings, importantly hitting their teammates home once they got into scoring position.
Then, the wheels fell off. The Brewers scored one in the fifth, but their sixth inning was nothing short of magical, scoring four total runs to bring the game to 9-8, Rockies. Colorado bounced back when Carlos Gonzalez hit a one-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, but that would be the the last score of the night for the Rockies.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee kept fighting, and in the ninth, Manny Pina’s two-run bomb tied the game up at 10-10. Into the 10th the game went, where the Brewers finished off Colorado by manufacturing one more run. That 11-10 loss is one which will sting for a long time, one the Rockies need to learn from.
They won their next game 4-0 over Milwaukee, but lost Sunday 7-3 and lost the series to the Brewers (24-17) 3-1.
At 22-19, the Rockies are currently 2.5 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. But, who are these Rockies?
They aren’t who we thought they were, at least, historically. They’re a solid pitching team this year, but, ironically, one of the worst hitting teams in baseball. Can they still turn it around at the plate? Sure, but we’re quickly coming up on the one-third point in the season, and the longer they go hitting this poorly, the more we know who this team truly is.
In terms of batting average, the Rockies’ .231 is 25th in baseball. And, according to weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), Colorado is second-worst in the MLB at 77. wRC+ is a weighted metric, in which 100 is average, and the best offensive team this year is the Atlanta Braves, at 111.
And, while the Rockies are usually great at home and struggle on the road, at 15-8 this year, they’re the third-best road team in baseball. From historically horrible offense, to mostly solid pitching, to winning on the road and losing at home; everything’s flipped on its head this year.
This Rockies team is simply like none other we’ve seen, which makes us wonder, from day to day; who are these Rockies? And; will they ever get it all figured out?
Tonight, Colorado starts a nine-game, California road trip against the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and finish with the Los Angeles Dodgers, three NL West teams who play in some of the toughest parks in the majors for hitters. Meaning, this could be a long, rocky road trip.