By Zach Cohn
The Colorado Rockies are in a Colorado valley right now, losing six out of their last seven games, and seven of their last ten.
Although there are always many reasons that contribute to losing, the Rockies woeful bullpen of late is the number one culprit. The offense is also mired in a curious funk, but the bullpen has been downright atrocious.
If you take a closer look at the stat lines from the last week, the losing pitchers are mostly relievers. This means the Rockies are relinquishing games in the waning moments, where losses seem to sting even more.
And it’s not just one guy blowing it for the Rockies, although poor Felipe Paulino has been skewered during this losing skid, picking up three losses in his last three appearances. There are several other Rockies relievers that have squandered could-be victories in the last week.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the Rockies’ recent relief struggles:
Tuesday, May 3rd, Rockies vs. Diamondbacks – After receiving a strong pitching performance from starter Jorge De La Rosa, the Rockies are tied with the D-backs 3 – 3 in the 8th. Paulino enters the game, throws three straight balls, and then Justin Upton, with the green light, hits a dead red fastball to right field to put the D-backs up. Rox lose 4-3.
Thursday, May 5th, Rockies vs. Diamondbacks – The Rockies are up 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th. Jason Hammel delivered seven innings of shutout baseball, and Rafael Betancourt pitched a solid 8th. The perfect opportunity for Huston Street to come in and keep his save streak alive, right? Wrong. Street doesn’t bring his A-game, gives up two 400-foot solo bombs, and blows his first save of the year, and the Rockies go on to lose in the 11th. Reliever Matt Belisle takes the loss, but Street deserves the majority of the blame.
Friday, May 6th, Rockies vs. Giants – Ubaldo Jimenez has his first dominant performance of the year, and the Rockies are leading 3-1 going into the 8th. Betancourt, who has pitched well all year, takes his turn to squander a game. He gives up a single, and then two doubles, and the two run lead quickly evaporates. Paulino enters to pitch the 9th, promptly gives up a double and a game winning single. Giants walk off, win 4 – 3.
Saturday, May 7th, Rockies vs. Giants – Another pitcher’s duel takes the ball game into a 2-2 tie into the bottom of the 9th. If the Rockies are going to win this game, they need their bullpen to come up big. Not going to happen. Paulino starts the 9th and gives up two immediate hits. Tracy pulls him for Franklin Morales. Morales arrives and quickly throws a wild pitch to advance the runners. Then he gives up a sacrifice fly to lose the game 3 – 2. Third straight walk-off loss for the Rockies, who go on to lose five of six on the road trip. Brutal.
These were all crucial division games. They were all on the road. And they all were very winnable. There are nine innings in a major league baseball game for a reason, and the Rockies continue to pitch themselves out of ballgames with their recent shaky bullpen.
As frustrating as this road trip was, the Rockies are still in first place in the NL West, but their comfortable cushion has been cut to only one game.
Rockies country currently finds itself in a state of grief, which begs the question, where’s the relief?