Fear the bullpen.
I’m not talking to the rest of the MLB. I’m just warning all Denver Rockies fans. Fear the bullpen, and really, the whole pitching rotation.
Bask in the sun now, because the clouds are moving in fast on the Rockies, and we all know how fast the weather can change. Sun today, six inches of mess tomorrow.
Where am I seeing the cirrostratus clouds? It all started in foggy San Francisco. During the series, the Rockies’ pitching got hammered, which most pessimists would look past. The Rockies’ defense isn’t elite. Yet, their vaunted offense came up short. The eight runs on the whole series wouldn’t have even beaten the Giants’ ten in the third game in San Francisco.
The Rockies have relied on their offense to carry them through games this season. They are first in batting average and slugging percentage, second in on-base percentage and third in runs.
But Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer, two of the most essential bats in the Rockies lineup, batted 5-for-21 against the Giants. The .238 average wouldn’t be despicable if the two of them weren’t batting .311 and .333 respectively. The pair of sluggers only had one RBI.
They exhibited a similar sluggishness (as opposed to sluggerness, perhaps) against Atlanta on Monday, when the final score stood 4-3 on the scoreboard from the forth inning onward.
If the Rockies can’t rely on their offense to keep them in games, then they will most certainly be looking to their bullpen and starters like Jorge De La Rosa, Jon Garland, Juan Nicasio, and Jeff Francis for some reinforcement.
The title bullpen is a misnomer for a group of pitchers that tires before pitching an entire inning. Aside from Matt Belisle, there isn’t a single reliever who can throw a good baseball past one inning. Unfortunately, the Rockies showed their true colors Sunday against Arizona, losing the game 5-4. The Diamondbacks came back from a 3-0 deficit, making the Rockies pitching look helpless in the top of the ninth when Arizona batted in two runs. The MLB’s latest phenom, Didi Gregorious, led the charge and padded his .467 BA on his 15 at bats this season.
Moments like those can define a team. When such a moment results in a win, it can solidify the confidence of a group of closers and relievers. On the contrary, when the outcome is a loss, the moment can shatter a group.
Their 15th-ranked collective ERA of 3.87 is against a very small sample size and mixed bag of offenses, particularly considering the Rockies played the Mets, who are fourth in runs, in wild weather conditions.
The upcoming stretch of games will be the Rockies’ test – a more “standardized” one. They will continue their series with the Braves, arguably baseballs’ best team. They will play the Dodgers, which will be their main competition in the NL West, assuming the Giants take the one spot. They will also see the Rays and the Yankees, who are both teetering over .500 but are never an easy win.
I’m not saying these Rockies aren’t a solid team. I’m just warning you. Fear the bullpen.