I think most Rockies fans have come to the realization that the playoffs in 2011 are not in the Rockies future. With major injuries to the starting rotation during the year, overall poor performance from some key contributors and some flat out bad game and player management the Rockies find themselves nine games out of first place on Tuesday morning in the National League West and 13 games out of the Wild Card.
Yesterday the Rockies signed Kevin Millwood who will apparently start for the Rockies on Wednesday. Millwood has spent the past five seasons in the American League and has not made a start in the major leagues in 2011. Millwood’s home run rates have steadily risen over the past five years and in each of the past five seasons he has allowed at least one home run per nine innings pitched. Millwood allows more hits in the air than on the ground (think the opposite of Aaron Cook) which is a bad recipe for the spacious outfield turf at Coors Field.
Millwood isn’t saving the Rockies season.
The unfortunate bit of news from the past two weeks is how bad the teams ahead of the Rockies in the NL West have been struggling, San Francisco especially.
In the past 14 games the San Francisco Giants have a record of 4-10 and over the past 18 they are 6-12. Over the most recent 14 games their offense has been woeful and only scored 30 total runs. The addition of Carlos Beltran was supposed to give them the middle of the order bat that they lost a few months ago when Buster Posey was injured but in 11 games with the Giants Beltran is hitting .244/.261/.356 and that isn’t what the Giants signed up for.
It hasn’t just been the hitting that has hurt the Giants recently, either; their pitching hasn’t been as good. The Giants offense isn’t going to score runs, that much is obvious when looking at their lineup, but their pitching has been good enough that in many cases two or three runs is enough to get the team the victory.
Tim Lincecum has been his usual Cy Young caliber self. He hasn’t quite had the dominating stuff to strikeout a bunch of batters but still keeps opposing runs off of the scoreboard. Matt Cain had a bad outing on August 1st where he gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings but other than he has also been good. Madison Bumgarner had a bad start on July 30th and gave up seven runs over four innings (five earned) but has been solid otherwise. In Ryan Vogelsong’s most recent outing on August 8th he gave up five runs in five innings and has an ERA of 4.50 in his last four starts. These four pitchers have been good, as usual, but Cain, Bumgarner and Vogelsong have each had a poor start in the past two weeks. The real issue with the starting pitching has been with Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez. Zito is back on the DL and in his three starts before landing on the DL his ERA was 10.91 in those three starts. He was flat awful and with each passing year that mega-contract Brian Sabean gave to Zito prior to the 2007 season looks worse. Sanchez recently came off of the DL and in his last three starts all starts lasted 4 2/3 innings and he gave up four, three and five runs in those three starts.
If the Giants lose pitching, really any of it, their offense is not capable of picking up the slack. Of course, their pitching is so good that isn’t really likely.
Going into July 25th the Giants were four games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the standings and today they are only a half game ahead of the Diamondbacks. Over that same time frame the Diamondbacks are 7-6 to close the deficit. Over the past 11 games the Diamondbacks are 5-6.
I still believe that the Diamondbacks cannot win the division. However, if the Giants pitching continues to falter then Arizona might win by default with the Giants fading. The Rockies certainly aren’t competing. I am sure the Giants pitching will be OK and they will continue to win 2-1 and 3-2 ballgames.
With both teams ahead of the Rockies struggling over the past two weeks the Rockies are 6-9 over their past 15 games and actually gained 2.5 games on the Giants. Pile this onto the the abysmal season. If the Rockies could have just played .500 baseball the past two weeks they would only be six games out of first place. I don’t know about you but six sounds a lot better than nine.