Nolan Arenado, Rockies teammates, know offense must heat up to win NL West
Given that the Rockies are in the thick of the National League playoff chase with a 68-57 record entering Wednesday night’s game against San Diego, “underachieving” might not seem to fit. Except that it does, at least when discussing the current state of their offense.
Colorado’s position players are well aware of their shortcomings but are confident things will turn around.
“We’ve played good baseball, but as an offense, we haven’t played anywhere near what we’re capable of this whole second half,” all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “But we have room to get better, so that’s a good sign.”
Outfielder David Dahl echoed Arenado, adding that he has been disappointed with his own performance since getting called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 5.
“I think we are giving away too many at-bats, myself especially,” said Dahl, who entered Wednesday’s game batting .255 (12-for-47) with two home runs since his recall. “I think we need to string together more quality at-bats. It doesn’t necessarily have to always be a hit, but grinding out at-bats, making the pitcher work, that’s what we need.
“And I think we have to do better with runners in scoring position. Get those big hits at the big moment. I think once we start doing that, we’ll take off.”
For a team that plays its home games at Coors Field, Colorado’s offensive numbers are indeed underwhelming:
- .254 batting average (fifth in the National League)
- 4.68 runs per game (fourth)
- .319 on-base percentage (eighth)
- 1.26 home runs per game (fourth)
- 8.75 strikeouts per game (sixth most)
- .205 batting average by pinch hitters (11th)
- .238 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position (eighth)
- The Rockies have been outscored by 12 runs this season. The only other team in the majors that entered Wednesday games with a winning record but a negative run margin was Seattle.
Team batting average and runs scored are certainly not perfect statistics, but in the Rockies’ case, they’re extremely telling. Consider that entering this season, Colorado’s all-time team batting average was .275 and it had led the NL in five of the last six seasons. Should the Rockies finish with a .254 average, it would be the worst in franchise history.
Similarly, the Rockies have led the NL in runs scored for four consecutive seasons. So they are lagging in that department, too.
Manager Bud Black agrees that the offense has not met expectations. He also knows what he wants to see going forward.
“We haven’t really seen those long stretches of (potent) offense all season, but it can still happen,” he said. “There have been times that we have just had to outpitch the opposition, and we have done that.
“When an offense is rolling, you are scoring five, six, seven, eight runs a game — a lot, consecutively. We are just not having those (games) over a long period of time. That’s been the frustrating part. So far it’s just not happening.”
If Colorado’s offense ignites down the stretch, watch out: This team could become a juggernaut. If it doesn’t, the Rockies might have to live with the irony that it was hitting, not pitching, that cost them a chance to win the NL West.
Holliday’s road. Veteran slugger Matt Holliday’s promotion to the Rockies from Triple-A Albuquerque appears to be on the horizon.
Wednesday, the Yankees claimed minor-league catcher Chris Rabago off waivers from the Rockies and optioned him to Double-A Trenton. Rabago is now off Colorado’s 40-man roster, leaving open a spot for Holliday, who entered Wednesday’s play batting . 345 for Triple-A Albuquerque.
Holliday has slashed .345/.455/.600 with an OPS of 1.055 for the Isotopes, with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 55 at-bats.
The Rockies are also facing some other roster decisions. Lefty reliever Mike Dunn is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list Sept. 3 and would need a 40-man spot if activated. Infielder Brendan Rodgers, Colorado’s top prospect, is a possible September call-up, but he would also have to be added to the 40-man roster.
For Holliday to be eligible for the postseason, he would have to be added to the roster by Aug. 31. There is a good chance, however, Holliday will join the club sooner than that. He would be used primarily as a pinch hitter.
Padres LHP Joey Lucchesi (6-7, 3.79 ERA) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (11-7, 2.96), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
The Rockies haven’t had much success against Lucchesi, hitting just .196 (9-for-46) while shortstop Trevor Story has the lone home run and RBIs (two) off the left-hander. But Lucchesi was shelled for five runs in four innings in his last start, and has given up five long balls over his previous four outings combined. He’s also struggled against righties this year, as all 15 of his home runs and 35 of his 38 RBIs given up have come from hitters on that side of the plate. Meanwhile, Freeland looks to continue his record-setting pace at home, where he is 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA. The southpaw will need to avoid further damage by Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva in order to record his fourth straight quality start, as the rookie has two home runs in two at-bats against him.
Friday: Cardinals RHP Miles Mikolas (13-3, 2.80) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (4-3, 4.47), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Cardinals RHP John Grant (5-5, 3.76) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (11-9, 4.42), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Cardinals LHP Austin Gomber (3-0, 2.98) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (6-6, 4.45), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
— Kyle Newman, The Denver Post
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