The National League West is a close division race with only three games separating the top and bottom teams. The Colorado Rockies have been trailing by only a couple of games for most of the 2013 season.
As the All-Star break approaches, Colorado’s pieces to a division win are aligning for what could result in a dominant showing throughout the second half of the season.
The Rockies made big changes in June to improve their rotation by replacing Jeff Francisand Juan Nicasio, but the debut losses by both Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz were not the revitalization the team needed.
Now that the trade deadline is approaching and teams are selling, the Rockies’ management must decide if these five are the guys that will take them all the way this year.
Oswalt and Pomeranz were both on winning streaks in the minors when they moved to the Rockies rotation this year, but neither has been able to translate their early season success into wins for the Rockies.
Oswalt lost his first three starts and has a 7.88 ERA, which gives some the impression that his loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers might signify the end his pitching opportunity in a Rockies jersey.
What makes the former long time Astro different, from Pomeranz in this situation, is that he gives a more impressive strike-to-pitch percentage despite suffering a loss.
The first two games of Oswalt’s Colorado career had a ratio over 70 percent in the June 2 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, yet he still managed 57 strikes out of the 87 pitches thrown for a 66-percent ratio.
The Rockies’ ace, Jorge De La Rosa, maintained a 60-percent average in the same category for June.
Oswalt may seem to be floundering on the mound due to the weakness in his secondary pitches, but management seems to have faith that he will find his groove this season. Four of the five slots seem set, but Pomeranz’s future may still be uncertain as the Rockies make their midseason corrections. The left hander will probably not receive the same leniency that Oswalt is getting because of Pomeranz’s history with the team.
The Rockies activated Hisanori Takahashi on June 23 to play for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, and that may worry Pomeranz. Takahashi, a left hander, was a 3.61 ERA starter for the Yomiuri Giants of the Central League in Japan in 2010.
Pomeranz may be deciding his fate with his next couple of starts, but it looks like the Rockies are not going to allow his success or failure to dictate the team’s chances of taking the division title this season.
Colorado also has a great closer in Rex Brothers. The Rockies will only need a little adjustment in the bullpen to shore up their pitching side if the rest of 25 year olds’ season is like his June performance.
The hitting side, however, is moving into alignment a little more slowly. Michael Cuddyer’s hot streak came at the best possible time for the Rockies. The return of Troy Tulowitzki and his 1.048 OPS will most likely reignite Colorado’s dominance in the division. The Monday Rockpile from July 1 on PurpleRow.com included a comparison chart that shows how Carlos Gonzalez’s hitting stats dramatically improve with Tulowitzki’s presence in the lineup. CarGo is at .296/.363/.604 so far this season, but he also has 22 home runs on the books.
Bringing together Cuddyer’s hitting streak with Gonzalez’s home run progress has kept Colorado competitive in the division while Tulo is on the disabled list.
If the team can add a healthy Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki back into the batting order, then the Rockies can expect to return to averaging over four runs a game as they were before June 13.
The Rockies’ hitting storm also includes the rookie efforts of Nolan Arenado who continues to show clutch abilities in the 9th like his single up the middle on a 2 – 2 pitch to help Colorado win over the San Francisco Giants on June 29.
Lou Hebert attended journalism school at the Defense Information School while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard in 2001. Since then, he has spent time in the trenches of the news, sports writing and the SEO mills. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, and Lou Hebert covers the Colorado Rockies beat for internet publications.