This has already been a special season for the Colorado Rockies, or at least it began that way.
The Rox enjoyed the best start of a season in their history (17 wins in the first month), but was the amazing April a mere aberration?
Colorado started 11-2 and they were doing well enough to open up a five-game lead in the NL West at one point. But at 7-12 since then, the Rockies’ division lead has shrunk faster than a steak on the grill, to only one game up on the Giants.
After their three-game sweep at the hands of San Francisco that concluded Sunday afternoon, the Rockies’ record fell to 18-14 overall and as of late they’ve looked worse than that mediocre record would suggest.
Colorado couldn’t compete with the Diamondbacks (15-18) or Giants (18-16), they went a pathetic 1-5 on the divisional roadie, including giving up three straight walk-off hits for losses.
The reason the Rockies are reeling? The two “B”s—batting and the bullpen.
Long considered an offense-only team, Colorado can’t hit the baseball from the top to bottom of their seemingly powerful lineup.
Dexter Fowler can’t stop striking out, all three of the Rockies’ third basemen are well below the Mendoza line and Carlos Gonzalez still isn’t hitting consistently or with any power.
Troy Tulowitzki was the Rockies’ biggest bat at the beginning of the year, now he can’t get a knock to save his life.
Tulo was as hot as the Colorado sunshine in the summer, but lately he’s been colder than the peak of Mount Evans during a blizzard.
Tulowitzki’s average was in the .330s just two weeks ago, now it’s dropped to .248 (0.73 in May) with no end to the drought in sight.
Simply put, Colorado must hit the ball and generate runs if they want to win.
The Rox were outscored 16-21 on their six-game road trip, meaning they scored less than three runs per game. It’s been so bad, Sunday was the fourth time the Rockies had been no-hit through five innings this season.
There are no excuses that can explain the Rockies’ hitting futility and if they don’t get raking soon, they’ll be buried by the time fall rolls around.
Almost as bleak as the Rox’ bats has been the beleaguered bullpen.
To say pitching is the problem in the Mile High City is thinking too simplistically.
Sure, Ubaldo Jimenez, the Rockies’ Ace, is 0-2 with a staggering 5.88 ERA, but overall the Rockies’ starters have performed well. On the last trip, the starter’s ERA was a tidy 2.31, they only gave up 10 runs in six games.
Numbers so low, it’s ridiculous the Rockies only managed one win.
Of course, no matter how few runs the starters give up, if the pen is throwing meatballs down the pike, the Rockies will almost certainly lose.
The bullpen gave up 10 runs in those same six games, far too high a number, as Colorado has learned how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It’s a frustrating and frightening reality for fans—no matter how well the Rockies play for the first six or seven innings, the reliever will find a way to choke.
As my colleague Logan Burdine said Sunday, the Rox can’t stop ignoring Felipe Paulino’s pathetic pitching. Paulino’s stats tell his tale of terrible play, with 19 hits, nine runs, two home runs and five walks given up in a miniscule 10.1 innings pitched.
And as fellow Blake Street Bulletin blogger Zach Cohen wrote today, the Rockies aren’t finding relief when their starters are done for the day.
Basically, you can’t win if you can’t score, and you can’t score if you can’t hit the baseball. And when you do score a couple runs, the bullpen can’t just come in and give up the game in the final moments, it’s the most demoralizing way to lose.
Bottom line, the Rockies are being stung by the killer “B”s. If they don’t get their bats popping and get the bullpen pitching with confidence, Colorado will find themselves in the all too familiar position of looking up at the rest of the division, their only hope at a playoff appearance another wildcard berth.
Get to raking Colorado or you’ll be at home when the leaves fall in autumn.