The Colorado Rockies return home with black and purple bruises hidden only by their uniforms. A nine game 2-7 road trip mercifully ended, with five games swept by the American League Boston Red Sox and Toronto Bluejays. With 17 games between the Rockies and the All-Star Break, a strong seven-game home stand and passable ten-game road trip could keep the team in contention in the National League West. Gasping for air, can Michael Cuddyer and the Rockies keep the team alive until some midsummer relief?
Despite being one game below .500, the Rockies are in second place in the National League West, only three games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. After today’s make-up game against the New York Mets, they play 16 straight against their own division, with all five teams only separated by only six games. In this free for all contest, the Rockies only need to come out ahead in the dogfight to have a chance in baseball’s second half.
Michael Cuddyer is having a career year for the Rockies, even stunted by his injuries, and his perseverance is holding this team near the water line. Cuddyer has a 23 game hitting streak and has reached safely in 42 straight games. He has been the only consistent player in June. It appears that the Rockies only chance of succeeding is a career year from Cuddyer, who has a .344 batting average, 70 points better than his career mark of .274.
Taking Michael Cuddyer out of the mix for a second, who else is going to make their mark on the Rockies? Carlos Gonzalez slumped again on the road, recording a .192 batting average with no homeruns and one RBI in the last week. The streakiness within the team continues to limit them, and with Dexter Fowler again succumbing to injury, the Rockies need assistance from the other role players.
None of the other position players are making sparks for this team, with the exception of new call-up Corey Dickerson, who has just seven at bats. Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosario have shown signs of greatness, but their youth seems to get ahead of their patience within the batter’s box. At times, it has looked like Todd Helton is ready to turn this team around, but has made no sustainable progress. Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin continue to disappoint this team after strong seasons last year, and no one is playing well in the middle of the infield without Troy Tulowitzki.
The pitching troubles could be catalogued here as well, but even strong pitching starts are being squandered by the Rockies. They scored seven runs twice on the trip, their two wins against the Washington Nationals last weekend, but otherwise could not get the runs needed to win. Of their 7 losses, they managed only 14 runs, or two runs per game. Even with inflated runs per game of near five due to Coors Field, no team is going to win a lot of games if they are only averaging two runs.
The Rockies have 11 more wins than they did at this time last year, which is an accomplishment, but acting like they are competing with a mighty offense is entirely misleading. Four players are having very good seasons for the Rockies. However, Tulowitzki is not in the line up, Fowler is battling injuries and Gonzalez is currently struggling. This team cannot win purely with Cuddyer. Even if the bats come back to life at Coors Field, if this team cannot pull its weight everyday, the ship will sink fast in a division that breeds mediocrity.
What hope is there for the Rockies? Figure out the offense and pray the pitching staff isn’t the house of cards on the verge of collapse that it appears. After the All-Star break, the Rockies have a home stand against the National League’s worst, the Chicago Cubs, the Miami Marlins and the Milawakee Brewers. Tulowitzki’s return to a contender at that point, gives a glimmer of hope to a meaningful second half.