Paxton terrific in return, eighth win eludes Senzatela

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With a little bit of a rough outing from Antonio Senzatela and a fantastic return from the DL by James Paxton, the Rockies never really stood a chance. They were shutout in the game, by both Paxton and the bullpen, and lost by a score of 5-0. The Rockies had only four hits on the night, with two coming from Tony Wolters out of the ninth spot.

It wasn’t an awful start from Senzatela by any means, but it was bad enough to keep the Rockies out of it, which isn’t saying much considering they scored no runs. Senzatela gave up four runs over five innings with his two walks coming around to hurt him.

After allowing three runs in the second on a couple of doubles and singles, the Rockies were down and out early. Senzatela had a rough last inning in the fifth when he walked the leadoff batter and allowed him to advance on a balk and a wild pitch. He eventually scored on a single for the final run coming off of Senzatela.

Sensei did have seven strikeouts on the night, a positive sign for a pitcher who has been low on strikeouts thus far, but it was a lone bright spot for the young rookie.

James Paxton managed through 5.1 innings in his first outing back from the DL, but he left off right where he started. Over those innings, Paxton walked none and struck out six, allowing only three hits, with two coming in his last inning.

While May has just ended and the Rockies are still near the top of the division, the recent losses have lead to some worrying. The pitching has not been as good and the offense has been struggling. Luckily for Colorado, after this series against Seattle, they will not face them again this season. So if it happens to just be Seattle having Colorado’s number, the Rockies can get back on track. However, if the Rockies continue to struggle, there may be actually reason to worry. The losses are really hurting Colorado as LA is the hottest team in the NL right now with no signs of slowing down.

The Rockies will try and win the series finale with Kyle Freeland on the hill as he faces Yovani Gallardo. Nothing is a sure bet recently, but if there was a game the Rockies should win, it is this one.

Chatty has another bad start at home

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With Jon Gray’s return imminent, a rehab assignment could come within two weeks, it would be a bad sign to see Chatwood still in the rotation. After yet another poor start at home, Chatwood has proven once again that he is unfit to pitch at Coors. Along with his inconsistency on the road, he is just not a starting pitcher the Rockies can use anymore.

Chatwood would most likely find a home in the bullpen, taking either Scott Oberg’s, or more likely, Jordan Lyles spot. The sooner a move is made, the better, and even if Jon Gray is not the one to take the spot, Jeff Hoffman is primed and ready to take the rotation spot.

This could all be a gut reaction to Chatwood’s poor start today, but that stats this year and last year tell the story and show that it is all true. The Rockies lost today because of six runs given up by Tyler over only 4.1 innings. This would maybe be more acceptable if it came against a team that was an offensive powerhouse, but instead it came against the Mariners.

The Mariners have capable hitters, Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager, right in the middle of their lineup, but lately they have all been struggling resulting in an anemic Seattle offense. They scored five runs on 16 hits on Sunday against the Red Sox, and another six runs on Monday shows they may be coming around. The Rockies hope this is not the case as they still have three consecutive games against them and the Dodgers and Dbacks hot on their tail.

The Rockies tried to fight back into this game and got within a run, but they could just not force across the tying one. They had seven hits on the day, but failed to get any production from Cargo or Reynolds in the middle of the lineup, something that never bodes well. If you take away Parra from this game, the Rockies never really stand a chance, but fortunately Parra was able to drive in a couple to get the Rockies close.

Colorado sends Tyler Anderson to the hill on Tuesday, and they absolutely need a better start out of him. The Mariners did use a lot of their good bullpen arms on Monday, so even if the Rockies can’t get to their starter, they may have a chance late in the game if they happen to be down.

Blowout turns into nail biter late

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The Rockies had a ten run lead going into the fifth inning, but after Jeff Hoffman exited the Dodgers started to climb back into the game. Thanks to the less competent side of the Rockies bullpen, a laugher turned into a game that was actually close. Greg Holland actually had to come in to close out the game, something Bud Black would have liked to avoided when up by ten runs.

With Jordan Lyles and Scott Oberg coming on with a huge lead, the Dodgers seemed to be out of the game. Unfortunately for the Rockies, these are two of their worst pitchers and they did an absolutely terrible job of giving the Rockies what should have been an easy win. After coming on in the sixth with one out, Lyles promptly gave up a two out run to Austin Barnes. That closed the book on Hoffman who struck out eight and allowed three runs in 5.1 innings.

Lyles got out of the seventh without any harm, but he allowed two more runs in the eighth to bring the Dodgers within five. Scott Oberg then came on to get the final out of the inning before running into his own trouble in the ninth. After allowing three straight hits and a run, Greg Holland came on to close the game. He would allow a single to load the bases, but then got a double play to get two quick outs. A run would score, but it would prove inconsequential as Holland got Yasiel Puig to strike out to end the game.

The final innings were much more stressful than they should have been with how the Rockies started. They got to Hyun-Jin Ryu for ten runs, five earned, and eight hits in only four innings. Blackmon and LeMahieu were actually both hitless in the game, but every other position player got a hit with the middle four batters (3-6) earning two hits each.

The Rockies winning the opening game of the series is definitely a good sign and they now take some offensive confidence into Friday’s game against Kershaw. The Dodgers also take this confidence in as well, except they face a pitcher who has struggled greatly at home. Chatwood could end up like Ryu with how he has pitched at Coors, but he did have a good start his last time at home, that hopefully he will replicate.

Position Preview: Catcher

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The Rockies may finally have a couple options at catcher, filling the hole that has seemingly been there for years. They have a tandem of catchers, one a defensive strongman, the other an offensive juggernaut, or so the Rockies hope. Tom Murphy and Tony Wolters will man the majority of time behind the plate and while neither is the for sure starter yet, there will likely be a more clear answer by years end.

Probable Starter: Tony Wolters

Tony Wolters is basically guaranteed the start on opening day. With Tom Murphy starting the year on the DL, Wolters will get the start and have a chance to prove himself as a top level starter. Wolters came to the Rockies last year and exceeded expectations, but only barely. Wolters had a streaky year at the plate, finally proving himself to be of some value later in the year. He was great all year defensively, however and will be a commendable starter for his game calling regardless of his offensive output.

Backup: Dustin Garneau

Garneau will get what is likely his last chance with the big league club filling in as the backup while Murphy is out. He has only played a little over 40 games at the majors, but has been underwhelming both offensively and defensively and with two younger, higher roof catchers on the roster, Garneau will likely have a short year with the major league club. He is not a catcher of the future and he is just another weak spot in the roster when in the lineup.

Player to Watch: Tom Murphy

Starting his year on the DL, Murphy will have to wait a few weeks into the season before seeing playing time. He will rehab in AAA before seeing major league time, but after a few games, he should find his way into the lineup immediately. With him as a right and Wolters as a lefty, Bud Black will get a chance to platoon the two until one proves themselves as the starter. Murphy is a top rated prospect for the Rockies and has potential to be an excellent starter for his offensive prowess alone. Murphy tore up AAA last year and earned himself playing time at the end of the year, but with Hundley and Wolters as the primary catchers, he did not get as much time as he should have. This year will be the first real look at what Murphy can do and there should be a lot of excitement when he comes off the DL.

 

 

 

Position Preview: Outfield

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All three outfield positions will get lumped into one post because of the nature of the position for the Rockies. There is really only one questionable position, left field, as to who the starter will be on opening day, but that does not mean there will not be lots of different outfield lineups over the course of the year.

Probable Left Fielder: Gerardo Parra

Parra looks to be the frontrunner for left field as David Dahl will probably start the season on the DL and Raimel Tapia will likely play a role off of the bench because of his lack of big league experience. But Parra should be on a short leash as he was absolutely terrible last year for the Rockies. Parra posted a career low -2.8 WAR and was below average defensively making up for that with only one highlight throw where he nailed a runner at third, more to the credit of Nolan Arenado than Parra. With an abysmal walk rate, a terrible eye at the plate, and no real power or ability to create offense, Parra’s contract is looking like the worst move of Bridich thus far. Parra could redeem himself this year with a really strong year, but without a hot start he will find himself riding the bench as the Rockies have a surplus of left felders, with more promise and potential than an aging Parra.

Probable Center Fielder: Charlie Blackmon

It can be argued that Blackmon was the Rockies most effective offensive player last year. From the leadoff spot, Blackmon put up career highs in a number of categories. He hit 29 home runs, tallied 82 RBI, hit for a .324 average, and had an OPS+ of 130. The year for Blackmon sets up high expectations for the 30-year old outfielder and will leave the Rockies with some difficult decisions at the deadline. The Rockies very well may move Blackmon for a young starter or a couple high end bullpen pieces if they are competing, and they could also trade him for prospects if they are behind at the deadline. As much as the Mile High city loves The Beard, there just isn’t much room for Blackmon in the future. Either David Dahl or Raimel Tapia have potential to replace Blackmon and they are both way younger, giving the Rockies more control for cheaper. Blackmon is arbitration eligible this offseason and can become a free agent in 2019.

Probable Right Fielder: Carlos Gonzalez

Cargo is yet to sign an extension with the Rockies, even though he has expressed interest in one, but is in much the same boat as Blackmon. Cargo is a star player and is always good for 30home runs and 100 RBI from the middle of the lineup. Cargo is a free agent after this season and with the outfield market as it has been, he could easily sign a large contract that the Rockies would be better off not signing. If an extension can be made and Cargo can take over some time at first base, then he may find himself retiring as a Rockie, but that is a pipe dream with the way things have been going. Again, with the Rockies depth at outfield, they are better off either trading Cargo at the deadline to a contender who needs an outfield rental, extending him on a team friendly contract to play first base and maybe some outfield, or letting him walk in the offseason. Cargo is another fan favorite and has established himself as a prolific player when healthy, but his years in Colorado may be winding to an end.

Backups: Dahl, Tapia, Jordan Patterson

The Rockies have a trio of major league ready outfielders, all with different style and abilities. Tapia is a leadoff type slap hitter who will make a lot of contact and not strike out a lot. He can play plus defense and would slot in at center field or left, but probably not right as his arm is not great. Dahl is a potential star player and has three hole power and two hole contact. He could very well win rookie of the year if he remains healthy and could play and of the three outfield positions with effectiveness. Jordan Patterson is likely the utility player of the bunch and may very well see more time at first than the outfield this year. Patterson is an above average hitter and will be able to hold his own in the bigs at first or the outfield. All three of these guys could make the big league club, but it is more likely that Dahl starts on the DL and one of Tapia or Patterson starts with the AAA club.

 

 

 

 

Position Preview: Third Base

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On the back of more injury news, the Rockies will be relying on their star players ever more. David Dahl has been sidelined with a rib injury, Ian Desmond will start the season on the DL with a fractured hand, and Tom Murphy will be out at least 4-6 weeks with a broken arm. What that means for the Rockies is players like DJ LeMahieu, Charlie Blackmon, and Nolan Arenado will have to drive the offense in the early parts of the season. Luckily, that should not be a problem for the All-Stars.

Starter: Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado is coming off another 40 home run season and a season in which he won a gold glove. Expectations are high for Arenado but he has had no problem meeting this expectations. Arenado led the league last year in home runs, RBI, and total bases, for the second season in a row, and ranked fifth in MVP voting. Arenado is a defensive and offensive superstar, one of the leagues best players, and the National League’s best third baseman. There is little doubt over what Arenado can do and this year could see Arenado winning an MVP, pending a successful season from the Rockies as a team.

Arenado is currently playing in the World Baseball Classic for team USA and hit his first homer last game, a three run shot that clinched the USA’s trip to the second round. The classic gives Arenado some good, high-leverage playing time before the season starts.

Backup: Amarista, Adames, Valaika

This is yet another position for Colorado where the starter is locked in and there will be no competition at all. This is also another position, like second base, where a backup will likely see very little playing time. Arenado played 157 games in 2015 and 160 in 2016. Pending some major injury, Arenado will again see playing time in nearly every game leaving little playing time for a backup player at third base.

Player to Watch: Ryan McMahon

Roadblocked by Arenado, McMahon may not ever see time with the big league club. What this means for the Rockies is a sell high type of player in hopes of going in on a big name trade. This is not something that will happen until midseason or next offseason, but it is something the Rockies may be able to do. McMahon is no Moncada or Giolito who will warrant star player type value, but a package deal at some point could yield the Rockies a decent name that improves their team.

Position Preview: Shortstop

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The Rockies earned some hard news yesterday when it was reported Ian Desmond had fractured his hand after being hit by a pitch. While this is a blow to their depth, the Rockies have some options to fill his void. Desmond may have filled some time at shortstop through the course of the year, but for the time being, that position will be manned by Trevor Story and whatever utility player makes it out of Spring training with the utility role.

Starter: Trevor Story

Story was the surefire starter going into Spring and that has not changed. While he has not had a great average so far, he has shown he still has power after being injured last year swatting four homers thus far. Story will hopefully grow this year at the plate, not so he hits more home runs, but so he strikes out less. Story had 130 Ks in only 97 games last year, but he did hit 27 home runs and still managed to get fourth in the MVP voting despite missing nearly half the season. Story will be the guy to watch early to see if pitchers start to exploit his holes or if he can adjust and turn into a legitimate shortstop of the future for the Rockies.

Much like second base, the backup role will go to either Amarista or Adames. Neither will play a large role this year, but with Desmond out they may see a little bit more playing time as the Rockies have to fill the infield holes will still giving days off to the everyday guys. The Rockies will hope for durability and no fluke injuries to Story otherwise they may find themselves struggling with infield depth. As of right now it should not be something to worry about, but it should be something to keep an eye on, pending an injury to one of the infield starters.