Coming out of the All-Star break Friday, the Colorado Rockies open up a three-game set at home against the Cincinnati Reds followed by another four games at home against the San Francisco Giants, including a doubleheader Monday at 20th and Blake.
As the Rockies, and all of baseball, resume after the Midsummer Classic, this is a great time to briefly look back and reflect on the first half of Colorado’s season and look ahead to the team’s second half as they prepare to try and make a postseason push.
Right now, Colorado sits at 44-45. That’s only good enough for fourth in National League West, as they are currently 14.5 games back of the first place Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies, however, are only 2.5 games back in the wild card race at just past the midway mark, as the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals own the two top spots.
Barring an incredible hot streak, along with the Dodgers losing a lot of games in a row, the N.L. West is all but decided by July. Thus, the wild card is Colorado’s only option, once again, to make the playoffs. With the club being only 2.5 games back, they are firmly in a position to make the playoffs this year. It won’t be easy, though, as the N.L. East, N.L. Central and even the Rockies own N.L. West are very competitive. Truly, only the Miami Marlins are out of wild card contention now in the National League. The Giants and New York Mets may also find themselves having a bigger deficit soon, which would still leave at least nine teams in the hunt for the two wild card spots.
Quickly looking back on the first half of the season for the Rockies, it was marked with a lot of mediocrity. Colorado wasn’t necessarily terrible, but they had terrible moments. The same thing goes the other way, as the Rockies weren’t great or really good but they had some really good moments. They have been extremely mediocre so far this season.
The Rockies offense has been top 10 in almost every offensive category. And the same goes for the team’s defense. Colorado ranks in the top 15 in almost every fielding category. The team’s pitching, however, has been mostly inconsistent and horrendous. The Rockies rank in the bottom half of the MLB in pretty much every pitching category. That goes for both the starters and relievers.
Colorado’s position players, for the most part, aren’t the problem. It’s been the teams pitching that’s kept them from being a better team.
Fortunately for the Rockies and their fans, baseball is a 162-game season, unlike other sports where, by now, you may be out of it. Colorado can still salvage their season with 73 games still remaining.
So, how do they pull themselves out of playing mediocre baseball in the second half of the season?
The answer to that is not simple, and it can be answered in multiple ways. But, there are steps Colorado can take to steady the ship. Most of it probably revolves around general manager Jeff Bridich and the club making some pretty decent personnel decisions.
Here are a handful of them regarding every aspect of the team, starting off with the team’s bullpen:
Ahh, the Rockies bullpen. An area of pain for fans all season. The rotation has had it’s terrible moments as well, but at least Colorado’s received some good starts for the most part out Jon Gray and others.
We’ll address the starters in due time, but starting with the bullpen, it’s going to be about the Rockies making some moves internally and externally. Colorado must make a trade or two (maybe even three) near the deadline for some bullpen help.
Do they trade for a top flight closer? If the price is right. However, judging by some of the asking prices by teams right now and the fact that most teams aren’t necessarily going to be sellers at the deadline, it may be hard for the Rockies to get a top-flite, “A-plus” bullpen arm. They should still be able to at least trade for a player or two though to lengthen and strengthen the team’s bullpen.
The Rockies should also think about promoting some players within. Colorado could promote some pitchers in the minors, including No. 16 prospect, according to MLB.com, Ben Bowden.
Bowden has been primarily pitching as a reliever in the minors, which is a rarity for the most part as teams usually turn starters into relievers once they reach the majors. Bowden pitched in the 2019 Futures Game this past Sunday and was roughed up a bit late, but he’s shown he’s mostly ready with his numbers in double-A this year. He recently made the move up to triple-A Albuquerque, and he should be called up as soon as possible to get him acclimated in the bullpen so he’s ready for prime time situations later this season.
As for the Rockies rotation, the team could also improve here by making a trade or two. Finding a back-end-of-the-rotation starter shouldn’t be too hard and should be easier than finding bullpen help.
If they can get a top-flight starter at a good price, again, go for it. But the team may be better off finding a Derek Holland- or Drew Pomeranz-type of pitcher to help the teams rotation at the deadline.
Colorado also needs to speed Kyle Freeland along back to the teams rotation. Since being demoted to triple-A, Freeland has been on a rollercoaster ride. He’s had good games, and he’s had some really bad games, similar to what we saw in the first half of the season at the major league level.
Is it an ideal situation? No. However, his past numbers and the team somewhat lacking options should bring him back to the majors this month or early next month. You might even be able to bring him out of the bullpen for a week or two to get him in front of major league hitting again.
Regarding the Rockies offensively and defensively, not much changes is needed. Outside of maybe getting Rodgers in the lineup more once he’s healthy and producing, don’t mess with anything. There’s not a lot you can really mess with.
Colorado should continue to be solid offensively and be great in the field. But if the Rockies can acquire a position player or a bench player that can add to the team’s offense or defense, it could go a long way if someone gets injured or by just adding to an already pretty good lineup.
Overall, the Rockies have a tough task in the second half, as they will have to play almost perfect baseball if they want to make the playoffs. If they play much like they have in the first half and don’t make any moves near the trade deadline, they could fall out of the race or be having a steep hill to climb at the end of July or in the middle of August to attain one of the wild card spots.
But, if they play better and make some roster moves, they can definitely make a run this season toward the postseason.
Prediction for the second half:
The Rockies will fall short of the playoffs in the second half. Colorado has a lot of tough games left to play the final few months. Outside of the Giants, the Marlins and possibly the Mets, the Rockies are going to be playing a lot of teams that are either in the postseason as of right now or are bidding for the postseason. That means close games and a lot of games where they’ll need to play almost perfect to win.
They haven’t shown that this year thus far. If they make some moves via trade, it would definitely go a long way and possibly put them over the hump of being a mediocre team. But, once they make those moves, where will they be at standings-wise? It could be too late.
Hopefully, that’s not the case. If they do make run, the next few weeks will be critical. If they can survive the rest of July being not too far off standings-wise and make some moves toward the end of the month, they could be sitting alright the rest of the way.
Colorado plays a lot of home games in August, which could be good or bad. Judge that for yourself. If they are in it, though, and have improved during the next few weeks, maybe they can pull off some late-season wins at home.
But, it’s unlikely, and the Rockies will miss the postseason for the first time in a few years.
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