For those of you that watched Thursday night's Rockies game against the Washington Nationals, you have to be scratching your head. It wasn't pretty. There was so much excitement after Olivo's walk off home run against the Phillies on Wednesday. Talk about "turning the season around", etc, etc. So much for that. Thursday the Rockies quit. They never looked like they wanted to be there. Who can really blame them? It was cold, and raining hard. It was a miserable night to be outside, playing baseball was just too much to ask.
BUT....it rained on both sides of the field, and on both teams. So why did we find the Nationals winning big, and the Rockies quitting? I'm not sure really. This team is missing SO much. Many will point out the injuries. But was the injuries the reason that none of the Rockies pitchers could spot a fastball? Was it the reason that Barmes, Helton, Fowler and Hawpe struggle to make contact with the ball? Too many of the Rockies go to the plate PRAYING they get a walk, like they are scared little leaguers. The Rockies played Thursday, like they are in a hurry for their parents to take them for ice cream after the game.
Thursday's night loss will be hanged on the bullpen. Daily, Flores and got hit hard in the eighth inning. But the Rockies wanted this game over. They wanted to be in the clubhouse. They pulled their jersey's off about as fast as LeBron James did last night. But hanging it JUST on them would be short sighted. They did stink it up, but like the Rockies this season, they weren't alone in looking bad, and giving away games.
I don't know what the full answer is to turn this team around, as the problems are many and layered, but my biggest issue is starting pitching. Winning baseball begins with the Starting Pitching. The Rockies have to get better starting pitching or more accurately more consistently good starting pitching. Jhoulys Chacin last night was off after being great in his first 2 starts. The driving rain last night obviously affected his ability to spot his pitches. The cold did affect him. But it seems as the season has gone along, there has been one excuse after another. Only Ubaldo Jimenez has been consistent in his starts. All the rest have had bad games, or several. Right now we are looking at Jason Hammel returning to pitch on Saturday in place of Greg Smith. While that should be an improvement, Hammel hasn't been a model lock-down guy this year. Hammel is 02- with a 9.06 ERA and 13k's and 8 walks in 18.2 innings pitched so far in 2010! And that's a guy the Rockies are looking to for an improvement! On Sunday, Jeff Francis will get his first start since 2008. To expect Francis to look like he did 3 years ago, as he returns from a terrible shoulder injury is hoping against hope.
Those moves will leave the Rockies Rotation:
Ubaldo, Hammel, Francis, Cook, Chacin
Does that look like the rotation that is anything better than a .500 rotation, even WITH Jimenez?
The old saying goes, you don't always know what you have until it's gone. Right now, the Rockies are finding out that Jorge De La Rosa is a huge key to their rotation. As a free agent coming up after the season, the Rockies better be ready to get in a bidding war. They need De La Rosa.
After last nights loss the Rockies now find themselves 16-18. 6 games out of first place. Worse they are now in 5th place as the LA Dodgers just passed them. The Rockies record at home is only 8-7 now, and 8-11 on the road. The Rockies only are 2.5 games above last place Arizona.