This road trip serves as a litmus test for the Rockies.
It would answer whether or not the Rockies can sustain their excellent 5-1 homestand. That hasn’t been the case for them so far.
The Rockies are 1-3 on this road trip after taking a 5-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park last night. From watching the last three games, it appears the Rockies have reverted to doing things that have made them a bad team this season.
It’s four games already, but the Rockies have been so bad on the road that it’s hard to give them a benefit of the doubt. They are 22-41 on the road for a reason. They are not good enough to win away from Coors Field.
Intelligence and attitude are why the Rockies struggle on the road, and that has to change if they want to be a contending team on a yearly basis.
The Rockies have to get smarter with their hitting approach. They strike out often on the road, and they don’t get the big hit when they need to. They take poor at-bats at the plate.
Last night illustrated what’s wrong with the Rockies. They made Ethan Martin look like Cliff Lee as they mustered two runs and four hits off him in 6 1/3 innings he pitched. Keep in mind the Phillies starter has been mediocre at best prior to last night’s start.
The Rockies guessed by swinging at every pitch rather than make Martin work by fouling off pitches or knowing what pitch was a ball.
This is the same old story when they are hitting. It’s tough to watch.
It’s hard to create offense when guys are striking out rather than figuring out how to make a pitcher work by fouling off pitches. This has been a problem all year. It’s even worse when veterans such as Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer are doing it.
There’s no question Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette has spent time telling guys to be patient at the plate. With that said, it’s easy to wonder if he is getting through to them by the way they are playing.
Their plate discipline has to get better. It can’t be hard to foul off pitches. If those guys can’t figure it out, they shouldn’t be playing everyday.
Part of being in the majors is to know plate discipline. That has to be taught in the minors before hitters are called up. If a hitter is hacking, it’s easy to get him out. The Rockies can’t have this. These guys should know how to have good at-bats when they enter the majors. There is no excuse to not make a pitcher work.
The Rockies have had trouble hitting on the road by hitting .247 and scoring 219 runs (third worst output in the NL) on the road. There is a reason to it. They have not done what they should be doing in being effective at the plate.
Until the Rockies figure out how to take proper at-bats, the results will continue to be same on the road.
Attitude is another problem with the Rockies. It seems like they are always flat when they play on the road. They seemed to be defeated when the home team takes a lead on them.
Their attitude on the road has to change.
It comes down to confidence. The Rockies have to expect to do well on the road. They can’t let their struggles wear them down. They can’t let deficits make it a lost cause for them. They need to know how to be aggressive such as stealing bases or extending single into a double.
The talent is there, but it means nothing if the attitude is not there.
The Rockies have had good hitting teams over the years, but for whatever reason, it has not translated well on the road. Then-Rockies manager Don Baylor did all he could to get his hitters to believe they can be effective on the road.
The problem is the Rockies expect to lose on the road. They don’t have enough leaders that can show how it’s done, so this will continue until the mindset changes.
The Rockies have to figure out how to do well on the road if they want to be a playoff team or have a winning season.
They need to find players who can get it done. That will be the key.
It would also be nice if guys like Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon and Charlie Culberson can figure out plate discipline.
If the Rockies can figure out how to have a better approach and develop a better attitude, they can improve on the road.
They need to find players that know what to do for that to happen.
Contact me or follow me on Twitter: @TalkinRockies
BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
Relief was the operative word after the Rockies finished their 10-game homestand yesterday afternoon.
The Rockies were relieved they salvaged a .500 homestand by going 5-5 in their 6-5 victory over the Brewers at Coors Field.
The hitters are relieved they played a role in this victory for once after failing to get the key hits during this homestand.
It has been frustrating for the Rockies’ hitters. They received criticism for their poor performance, and they take it to heart knowing that they are trying with no results to show for it. It got to the point where it took a toll on them whether they want to admit it or not.
It’s natural for hitters to feel that way. They don’t want to waste great performances from their starters by being inept at the plate. That gets them to try too hard, and that becomes frustrating when it does not work out.
Hitting a baseball is easier said than done. There are so many good pitchers in the National League that the Rockies are facing, and it hasn’t worked out for the Rockies’ hitters.
Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki haven’t played well, and that’s why the Rockies are having hard time winning games.
Fowler and Tulowitzki are still trying to get back in the groove after being on the disabled list.
Gonzalez has been nursing a sprained finger for awhile, and it has affected his performance at the plate. He did not play this weekend, and chances are good he will be on the disabled list since his finger continues to affect the way he is swinging the bat.
Cuddyer has grounded into double plays or flied out since the post-All-Star break.
When the stars don’t play like stars, it’s going to be hard to score runs.Yesterday was a different story. Everything clicked for Tulowitzki, Cuddyer and Fowler.
Tulowitzki hit a home run in the first inning, and he scored the tying run on Cuddyer’s double in the eighth inning.
Cuddyer tied the game couple of times in the game. He tied the game at 3 by hitting a home run in the sixth inning, and he tied the game at 5 in the eighth inning.
For good measure, Cuddyer scored the game-winning run in the eighth inning when Nolan Arenado hit a RBI single.
Fowler hit his 12th home run in giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning.
To say all those four guys needed this performance is an understatement. It’s been so long since they created good moments for the Rockies like yesterday.
Tulowitzki hasn’t given the Rockies the spark that they thought he would give once he came back on the disabled list. He takes good at-bats, and he gets on base. That said, he is being paid to drive in runs and hit home runs. That hasn’t happened frequently.
It’s not surprising he hasn’t. It takes time for baseball players to get back to where they are after being on the disabled list. Keep in mind he might still be playing in pain. It takes an offseason to have an injury completely healed. For him to gut it out there while he is hurting, that should be commended.
Same can be said for Fowler, who is 6-for-35 at the plate.
Cuddyer does not have the disabled list excuse to explain his struggles. His problem is that he is such a streaky hitter. He can be great for a month as he demonstrated with his 27-game hitting streak, and he can go through a drought that last for a long time as he is doing now.
He knows he has to drive in runs, not ground into double play. One of the things he needs to do is grind out good at-bats for him to do that as he did yesterday. He hasn’t done that outside of yesterday.
The Rockies’ stars feel they are on the verge of breaking out. They can only hope yesterday will set the tone for good things. It has to happen for them with the Rockies starting a 10-game road trip tonight. If the Rockies want to win five or more games on this trip, the onus is on them to produce.
Yesterday’s offensive performance provides respite for the stars, but they know they have to sustain this.
That’s why it was more of a relief than a celebration in the locker room. They know one good game can only go so far.
It’s about doing it again.
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BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
It’s a good thing the Broncos started training camp.
This gives Rocky Mountain sports fans something to watch now that the Rockies are playing their way out of playoff contention as always.
It’s hard to take the Rockies seriously when they lost three of four to a bad Marlins team at home.
This was a homestand that was supposed to help the Rockies stay afloat and give them momentum heading to August. Instead, the Rockies are 49-54, and they are five games out in the NL West heading to tonight’s game against the Brewers. They gained one game and lost two games in the standings.
Sure, the Rockies are five games out, but the bottom line is they have to be at .500 and be within striking distance at the end of the homestand. It’s not happening. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Rockies lose two of three or get swept by a bad Brewers team this weekend to finish the homestand.
The Rockies needed to do well in this homestand. It won’t be easy when they play the next 20 games on the road. Considering how they are 20-29 on the road this season, it’s hard to think they are going to do much on long road trips coming up this month.
The problem with the Rockies is they can’t hit. That’s the frustrating part considering they have received better starting pitching.
The Rockies haven’t created a big inning in the last few months. All they do is ground into double plays or strike out. Their at-bats leave a lot to be desired. It’s hard to score runs or win games this way.
It starts with the stars on the team. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are not producing.
Tulowitzki has not been the player he was before he was on the disabled list. He is still finding his way at the plate after missing time. That should be expected.
Gonzalez has not been hitting home runs frequently since his finger has been hurting for weeks. He is currently 3-for-20 in this homestand.
It isn’t only just those two. It’s guys like Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario that are not doing their part.
Fowler hasn’t gotten on base.
Cuddyer has grounded into a lot of double plays since the post-All-Star break.
Either Rosario strikes out or ground out.
It’s hard to win games when guys are not doing well.
How bad is this lineup? They have failed to score more than three runs for the 14th in the past 20 games. It’s hard to believe the lineup will get better anytime soon. Hitting is mental, and the struggles may have gotten the best out of the hitters to point of no return.
This isn’t the first time the guys slumped as a team. It’s been going on all season.
The hitters are also gaining a reputation where they are only good when it doesn’t matter. That means maybe their hitters are not good enough.
If these guys can’t hit against inferior teams, how they are going to get better against better teams that the Rockies are facing in the next weeks? It’s no wonder why Rockies fans are giving up on them now.
It’s fair to wonder if the Rockies can ever win anything with these guys in a year they should win a winnable division. The talent is there, but it means nothing. Guys have to get it done, and the Rockies aren’t right now.
It’s up to them to surprise the fans now. It’s up to them to get the fans to believe.
With 59 games to go, the hitters have to show they have the reputation to step up in situational hitting.
With 59 games to go, they need to show they can snap out of it.
That remains to be seen. It’s hard to be confident when they haven’t showed they can get it done. Their track record isn’t the greatest.
If the hitters can’t feast on inferior teams, what makes anyone think they can do well against divisional teams later this year?
It’s a shame the Rockies are wasting good pitching from their starters this year. Their problems have always been starting pitching, so it would behoove the hitters for not getting it done.
It’s hard to believe they are a playoff team when they can’t beat bad teams.
It’s hard to believe they are a playoff team when they are 36-50 after starting the season with a 13-4 record.
The best the Rockies can do is now is finish at .500, but even that goal could be a reach with the way they have played for the last two months.
It’s another year of the team being irrelevant.
It’s another year of no September baseball.
In other words, it’s business as usual with the Rockies.
No wonder everyone is now focusing on the Broncos.
Follow me or contact me @TalkinRockies on Twitter.
BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
It does not look good at first glance.
The Rockies finished the pre-All-Star break with a 46-50 record.
Despite being 4 1/2 games out, it would be hard to take any team with a losing record seriously as a playoff team.
That’s what logic tells us anyway.
With that said, the NL West is a mediocre division at best. Not one team stands out. That’s why the Rockies are contenders in spite of themselves.
It’s on the Rockies to take advantage of the opportunity to win in a division that is weak. They don’t get opportunities like that often. It’s hard to think this is going to be the case every year. The Giants, Dodgers and Diamondbacks are not going to be mediocre year in and year out.
Shame on the Rockies if they don’t win the division. This season would be a failure if they don’t win it.
The talent is there to win the division.
The Rockies have three good starters that produce quality starts in Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Chatwood and Jhoulys Chacin. That’s a good foundation to win the division.
They are not in the class of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey and Adam Wainwright, but they are efficient. Efficient can do this season in winning the NL West.
De La Rosa is 9-5 with a 3.21 ERA. He could have won 12 games if he had run support this season, and if he had 12 wins, he would have been an All-Star.
De La Rosa has been consistent all season when it comes to throwing strikes and putting on a good performance. He makes pitching at Coors Field easy by getting out of jams and getting ahead of the count. He finds a way to get outs when he is in a jam. He uses all of his pitches to get outs such as fastball, slider and curveball. He knows what he is doing out there.
Chatwood has been a revelation since he was called up in May. He pitched well in eight of his last 10 starts, and that should be enough of a sample size to say he is a legitimate starter.
He averages six innings a start, and his command has been a difference in him being a good starter. He worked on developing his slider to help him throw strikes, and it paid off for him this season in getting guys outs in the majors. He knows how to mix in a slider with a curveball to get hitters out. The 23-year-old starter has finally found the confidence and stuff that turned him into a better pitcher.
After a rough start, Chacin turned his season around by pitching well in his last seven starts. He figured it out after a June 11 start against the Nationals where he threw strikes to get the Nationals out after he gave up a 2-0 lead. Since then, he found a way to throw strikes and not create a big inning. He is working faster, and he knows how to protect leads.
If Juan Nicasio or Drew Pomeranz can get it going, the Rockies are going to be in great shape where they can trot out four good starters every fifth day.
Good starting pitching sets the tone in winning games, and the Rockies have that.
They also have a great bullpen where they can protect leads after the sixth inning. The Rockies expect their starters to go six innings, and after that, they give the ball to Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers and Rafael Betancourt.
Belisle, Brothers and Betancourt have been reliable in protecting leads. They throw strikes, and they throw zeroes when they are on the mound. It’s a good feeling for Rockies manager Walt Weiss to have.
Pitching may have been the Rockies’ bugaboo for a long time, but this is not one of those years. This is actually their strength.
The hitting has been up and down for the Rockies, but the talent is there to win games.
As long as Troy Tulowitzki is healthy, the lineup should be good. Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez will benefit with the Rockies shortstop being in the lineup as they will see more pitches to hit. That wasn’t the case when the Rockies All-Star was on the disabled list.
Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario have to play better than they have showed. They have done okay, but okay should not be good enough for those two that are capable of being great hitters.
The Rockies are in the top 10 in runs scored as they are ranked 10th in runs scored by scoring 426 runs. Still, they can do better. They have to stop making inferior starters look better than they are as they demonstrated against Chris Capuano last week.
The lineup is good enough to perform. The output can be better. The Rockies are banking Tulowitzki’s return will be the difference.
Not only do the Rockies have talent, but their competitors are not good.
The Diamondbacks leave a lot to be desired with their pitching. Their starters have not pitched well, and their bullpen leads the majors with 19 blown saves.
The Giants have struggled to score runs, and their pitching has been inconsistent.
The Dodgers have played well, but their pitching is a question mark outside of Kershaw.
The Padres are not good enough to win the division. Their pitching is a question mark, and their hitting is nothing to write home about.
When comparing the Rockies to other teams in the division, it would be a shame if they fail to make the playoffs.
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