Approaching the last week of June, the Rockies are in the middle of a grueling road/home schedule that may decide their fate inside the NL West. The club plays nothing but divisional games to close out the month, which will go a long way toward determining their fate this season.
As I wrote about last week, this will either put them behind the eight ball in the division or keep them afloat. With both Dodgers series still ahead, that fate is still to be determined.
However, there is one thing we do know right now. The Rockies are going to need to upgrade their starting rotation and bullpen if they want to make some damage this season.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard that before.
I know it’s not surprising, but it remains more true than ever. What hasn’t been talked about as much is how the club is going to need to go about doing this, which in my mind is going to require some outside-the-box thinking and methods to do so.
It’s very easy to sit here and say as it regards to the Rockies starting rotation, “The Rockies should trade for Nationals starter Max Scherzer” or “The Rockies need to go after Giants starter Madison Bumgarner.” While these moves would no doubt improve both areas for the Rockies (I mean Scherzer/Bumgarner would be the biggest of big upgrades), that’s not going to happen Rockies fans.
With as many teams that are going to be in on Scherzer, Bumgarner and other top-flight starting pitchers close to the trade deadline in July, the Rockies should look to stay out of the high-end market and instead look to make minor moves with the starting staff. The club should also look to make the biggest moves in the team’s bullpen.
The Rockies should look to ride the starters they currently have while possibly looking to add a No. 3 or 4 starter such as Jordan Lyles of the Pirates, Marco Gonzales of the Mariners or even Danny Duffy of the Royals. These would all be moves that the Rockies could make for minimal cost.
The Rockies should also patiently wait for Kyle Freeland to figure things out in AAA Albuquerque. The biggest move they might be able to make is getting Freeland right again. Even if it takes another month or so, they should keep him in the minors until he figures it out. If he does, then it would be huge and the biggest boost the team can get in their rotation. If he doesn’t, well, the Rockies can look to get by with pitching rookie Peter Lambert, Jon Gray, German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela and whoever else the team acquired. All this would allow the Rockies to focus on strengthening their bullpen.
If you can’t get an A+ arm to bolster the teams rotation, the team should instead look to add A+ bullpen arms. The Rockies should start with looking at Mets closer Edwin Diaz.
Diaz in recent weeks has suffered some rough outings, leading many in New York to say the team didn’t get what they hoped for when trading for him from Seattle this past offseason. Yes, he has been down, but he’s still a really good bullpen arm. The Rockies should capitalize on this and see if Diaz is available.
If he isn’t, then there are still plenty of other top-flight arms that could be available. Alex Colome of the White Sox, Felipe Vasquez of the Pirates, Keen Giles of the Blue Jays, or even a Mark Melancon or Will Smith of the Giants. If the Rockies can get one, two or even three really good to quality bullpen arms in July, they could then lean on their bullpen in the middle to late of games even if the team’s starters aren’t perfect every game.
A lot of talk will start to heat up around the Rockies rotation and the team should make a move there. But, some really good quality moves in the bullpen might be what the doctor ordered for the Rockies pitching woes. After all, what was it that cost the team some games this past weekend in San Diego? It was the bullpen.