Welcome to the 63rd edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we’re talking some Rockies in a pretty big post. Let’s get into it…
A while back I mentioned how tough the month of May would be for the Rockies, highlighted by a perilous nine-game road trip through Atlanta, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Sure enough, things went quite poorly. How ’bout a quick recap?
It was a bad trip before it even started.
The Thursday before the Rockies headed east, they hosted the rival Giants for a crucial rubber match day game. The game was suspended in the sixth inning after heavy rain, lightning, thunder, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wild fires, El Ninos, cyclones and nor’easters moved into the Denver area. The stormy skies would prove ominous.
Suspending that game meant wasting a start from Jorge De La Rosa, arguably the National League’s best pitcher in the month of May and taking away a very winnable game and series against the Giants. It also took four and a half hours to wrap things up on a getaway day before traveling to the East Coast which, of course, cost the Rockies two more hours.
So yeah, it was literally a crappy road trip before it even started.
Then in the second inning of the first game– THE SECOND INNING OF THE FIRST GAME!– Nolan Arenado, a would-be all-star and one of the most important players on the roster, broke his finger diving into second base. It seemed like a huge loss at the time. It would seem larger and larger after each of the next eight games.
The Rockies would win one of three against the Bravos. Honestly, not all that bad considering the Rockies are 3-88 in Atlanta the past ten seasons.
The Philadelphia series sucked. Started with a blowout loss. Then a fairly comfortable win (in which the Phils’ Ben Revere hit his first Major League home run in his 1,566th plate appearance. I’m tellin’ ya, this road trip was weird.). Then the third game was a gruesome kick to the nuts. And shins. And face.
The Rockies played like crap but got a miraculous go-ahead, eighth-inning homer from DJ Lemahieu– his first of the year (weird!). With a one-run lead, the Rockies committed two egregious errors in the ninth inning (weird!). Closer LaTroy Hawkins was removed with two outs in favor of Boone Logan for the lefty-on-lefty matchup vs. Chase Utley (pretty weird). Game tying single. Walk-off three run homer.
Games like that are difficult to come back from. The Rockies didn’t.
They went into Cleveland and got swept, utilizing two more dramatic kicks to the nuts on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, Adam Ottavino served up a walk-off to Michael Bourn. Adam Ottavino has been the Rockies best reliever all year. Michael Bourn had hit one home run prior to that one. That was, like, the last thing I expected while watching that at bat. Anyway, it was a fitting end to the road trip because it made no sense and was just brutal for the Rockies and their fans.
Just about the only thing going well for the Rockies is the pitching of De La Rosa. The other four starters were pretty much awful for the entire trip. So were Cargo and Tulo and the rest of the lineup. (They went an astonishing 7-62 with runners in scoring position in the nine games. SEVEN FOR SIXTY-TWO!) The bullpen was also bad.
So now the Rockies come back home for ten games at The Keg and I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this homestand. I could easily see the Rockies going 9-1 and making everything feel swell again. Or I could see them going 3-7, calling it a year, proving the naysayers correct and allowing the Denver media to do what they love to do and focus on the Broncos’ OTAs all summer. Make no mistake, the next ten ballgames will go a long way in determining whether the Rockies hang around this season.
The hottest topic surrounding the Rockies is what to do with the rotation. One way or another, Franklin Morales absolutely can not be allowed to make another start. Juan Nicasio is a very shaky fourth starter. Jhoulys Chacin, the Rockies best starter last year, looks like a shell of himself. There is help waiting in the minors, but whether or not the young guns are ready remains a foggy picture.
Jon Gray is the Rockies’ most prized prospect. It sounds like they’re not ready to call him up, which isn’t all that surprising. People seem to forget that a year ago he was pitching in the College World Series. That’s a long way from Coors Field.
Eddie Butler is the other young hype machine in Tulsa, but he’s had a bumpy road of late and it’s clear the Rox want to exercise caution in how they handle his ascent to The Bigs.
Tyler Matzek was making a push as the most likely call-up from Colorado Springs, but he threw a wrench in that plan by getting lit up Sunday.
Here’s what I’d like to see: Immediately move Morales to a long-inning relief role and call up Matzek to take his place in the rotation. Matzek doesn’t have quite the potential of Butler and Gray so there is less long-term risk if he flames out. His last AAA outing was rough, but who cares? Let’s see if the guy can make a positive impact.
If the homestand starts out shaky and the third and fourth wheels look like they’re about to fall off (the first two are long gone) call up Butler and move Nicasio to the ‘pen in place of Morales or Nick Masset. At that point the season would be teetering towards irrelevance. At some point you have to say Screw It and throw your cards on the table. Butler could be your ace in the hole. You have to play that card while you’re still sitting at the table. Butler (and maybe also Gray in a couple months) could have the impact that Gerrit Cole had in leading Pittsburgh to the playoffs after he was called up in early June last year.
If Morales makes another start, you’re insulting every player on the team and sending a horrible message to your fans. So call up Matzek right away and be very, very ready to pull the trigger on Butler.
But the biggest problem the Rockies have might not have much to do with the Rockies. The Giants never lose. They just win… like, every game. They have baseball’s best record and are 17 games over .500. Their hot streak coupled with a Rockies’ 2-7 road trip means the Rockies are very suddenly 8 1/2 games out of first place. If that getaway day game doesn’t get suspended and the Rockies win, Colorado would have been two games back. That’s a very dramatic turn in less than two weeks.
Being 8 1/2 back on June 3rd is not a desirable position, but it’s not a death sentence either. I remain convinced the Giants will come crashing back to earth in a big way. (Statistically, they are incredibly lucky.) So all things considered I’m not ready to quit on this club. June is the time to make a move, with 16 of the next 27 games at home. Even after that stretch, the Rox will still have played 5 more road games than home games.
So the schedule has been pretty rough but if the Rox are as talented as I’m inclined to believe, things should improve now. Pretty much every team in baseball will go through a rough stretch involving a tough road trip. The response to that stretch is what’s important. The Rockies need to respond right now.
But really, let’s just be glad that damn road trip is over.
Off to the weekly departments…
Douche of the week:
Lance Stephenson tried really hard to get inside LeBron’s head in the Eastern Conference Finals. He made it into LeBron’s ear, but that’s about it.
I’m not exactly a LeBron fan, but his reaction here is just perfect. Kills me every time.
And don’t worry! The ear-blowing was the most famous incident, but Game 6 provided us with two more great Stephenson GIFs.
Just slapping people in the face…
Udonis Haslem wasn’t entertained and notified Stephenson, saying, “I’m going f*** you up. That’s Real.” (Sorry for the coarse language inside that tweet, I can’t change those letters to asterisks.)
Thanks for douchin’ it up, Lance.
Speaking of the NBA, a couple weeks ago I predicted the Spurs would beat the Heat for the title. I’ll stick with that. It’s hard to root for either team, but it should be an awfully entertaining series. The Spurs are a truly unbelievable organization. I have no idea how they keep doing this every year, and neither do you.
Stud of the week:
I don’t care what anybody says, that kid is a stud. He’s also now a rap star with his own version of the latest really popular and annoying song. I can’t decide if this video is horrible or awesome:
I guess I’ll go with awesome.
Which reminds me… I used to love the Spelling Bee. It generally came on unannounced sometime during my first week out of school, meaning daytime television was not yet depressing. Sleep in until about 10… Watch The Price Is Right… Flip to ESPN… Ohh look it’s that magical day when weird nerds take over the sports channel! I would sit on the couch on a beautiful summer day and watch those twitchy little homeschooled freaks for hours in awe of this certain population of the world I did not know existed. (Remember this seductress?) I still kind of don’t believe those kids are real people.
Tweet of the week:
Just in case you haven’t vomited yet today.
Vine(s) of the week:
This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
And here’s the fellas over at Purple Row using a Vine I made of a displeased Michael Cuddyer:
Apparently reading athletes’ lips as they cuss is an important theme this week.
And finally, I think somebody got into Daddy’s special water bottle.
Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.
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