The future looks bright for the Colorado Rockies.
The present is a whole different story for the club.
On Sunday, Jhoulys Chacin gave the Rockies something to be excited about. He dominated the Diamondbacks, showing what he can do with confidence. Despite holding just a one-run lead, the 22-year-old stayed strong and salvaged the finale of a three-game series, 1-0.
Chacin had his best stuff since his shutout of the Red Sox in June. He went 7 1/3 shutout innings, giving up just three hits. He walked only one batter and struck out nine.
While Chacin's performance was a breath of fresh air for the Rockies, the other problem that Coloardo is dealing with rared its ugly head once again.
The Rockies offense was once again as stale as an old bag of potato chips. When they scored their one run in the eighth inning, it almost felt like they had scored 10 runs.
The problem, while easier to figure out than to fix, is simple.
Rockies hitters take horrible approaches at the plate. When they have the opposing pitcher on the ropes, they continually let him off.
The prime example of the Rockies struggles came in the ninth inning on Sunday. Ryan Spilborghs came in to pinch hit for Clint Barmes. The bases were loaded after Melvin Mora was intentionally walked with two outs. Spilborghs found himself in a 3-1 count. He swung at the next pitch, and while he hit it hard, he hit it right to Stephen Drew at shortstop. He quickly recorded the out and got the Diamondbacks out of the jam.
In a situation in which the team is struggling to score runs over such a large time frame, and are currently leading 1-0, there is no reason why Spilborghs should have had a green light on that pitch.
An insurance run at that point means everything. So even if the 3-1 pitch is down the heart of the plate, the next pitch is a full count pitch, which means that the runners will be on the move with the pitch. A ball hit anywhere near the gap guarantees two runs and most likely gets three.
In addition to that, when a hitter has a 3-1 count, the pressure is on the pitcher to throw strikes. If he misses the zone on one of the two pitches, a run walks to the plate.
Swinging at the 3-1 pitch is doing a huge favor for the pitcher. Instead of having to throw two straight pitches over the plate, he gets out of the situation with one pitch, even when the ball was hit hard.
If the count goes to 3-2 and the runners are in motion, the pitcher is essentially going to have to take his chances and throw a pitch that isn't anywhere near the corners, but closer to the heart of the plate to ensure that he doesn't walk a run in if he misses.
Luckily for the Rockies, they were able to get out of the game with a win. However, it would have been much easier if they could have gone to the bottom of the ninth with an extra run or two to play with.
It worked out for them on Sunday, the rest of the season, however, has been a different story. Because of that, the Rockies have found themselves looking towards next season.