Rockies Have Put Themselves Behind 8-Ball in Last 2 Weeks; Is A Revival on Tap?

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The Rockies have not played themselves out of post-season consideration in the last two weeks.

They have, however, dug themselves a hole.

"We have to get better," said All-Star third baseman Noaln Arenado. "We have to make a move."

The Rockies have gone from sitting atop the NL Wild Card standings to a tie for seventh place in the Wild Card race, having lost their last six games before the All-Star Break. In the process, they undid the good they had done when they rebounded from a 3-12 start to the season to claim the top spot in the Wild Card Standings.

So what gives?

Well, the Rockies do open up the post-All-Star portion of the schedule with a chance to get some things in order. Their seven-game homestand begins with three games this weekend against the Reds, the last-place team in the NL Central, albeit they are only 4 1/2 games back of the division-leading Cubs, the second-smallest deficit faced by a last-place team at the All-Star Break since the creation of the divisional series.

History, however, does not bode well for the Cubs.

That, however, is far from a concern of the Rockies. They are focused on what they need to do to get themselves back into the post-season for what would be the third year in a row. And the first step will be to regain their home-field edge after going 0-6 in the final week before the All-Star Break.

On paper, the next week should be a chance for the Rockies to make a move. The Reds, in the NL Central, and Giants, in the NL West, are both in last place.

Paper, however, can be wadded up and thrown away. The Rockies have lost 11 of their 29 series so far this year, and were swept six times. They have lost a series to a team with a losing record only twice. They lost three out of four at San Francisco (April 11-14), which represented the final four games of the 3-12 season start. And they dropped two out of three June 7-9 at the Mets, who have the second-worst record (40-50) of any NL team.

But they are at home for the next two series, and between being swept in series by Dodgers and Braves to open their home season, and the Astros in the last two games at home before the All-Star Break, the Rockies had a losing record (1-2 against the Diamondbacks May 3-5) in only one of 11 Coors Field series.

And they can't waste time, not with the way the schedule shifts in a week.

After the seven games with the Reds and Giants, the Rockies embark on a 10-game road trip that features three games against the Yankees, four against the Nationals and then three against the Reds, before returning home to close out July by hosting the Dodgers, against whom the Rockies are 2-8 this year.

"It's not like, `My God the sky is falling,'" said reliever Chat Bettis. "We have things we need to tighten up."

It hasn't been a good season, so far. But it hasn't been a nightmare, either.

The bullpen has become a whipping boy for frustrated fans, with a focus on closer Wade Davis.

But is it as bad as the fan base may feel?

Davis had a weekend to forget, failing to convert save situations in losses to the Padres on June 14 (16-12) and June 16 (14-13), which shot his ERA up from 2.55 to 5.21. Those, however, are the only two saves Davis hasn't converted. He has been good in 12 of 14 opportunities, which ranks 10th in the NL.

The Rockies do have some problems in the bullpen. They rank 14th in the NL -- ahead of only the Mets -- with a 53.3 percent save conversion rate (16 of 30), which means the relievers other than Davis are a combined 4-for-16 in their opportunities. Overall, however, the bullpen, despite home games at Coors Field, has a 4.52 ERA, ninth best in the NL.

The concern has been the rotation. Kyle Freeland's early-season struggle was enough that he was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque for a six-start tuneup, and will return to the mound at Coors Field on Saturday. Tyler Anderson underwent career-threatening knee surgery. And Jeff Hoffman once again stumbled when given a chance to claim a rotation spot.

The Rockies rotation is 29-32 with a 5.57 ERA, which would be tied for the sixth-worst rotation ERA in franchise history if the season had ended at the break. As for the five times the Rockies have advanced to the post-season, the 2019 starters are far from on pace. The only year close is 1995 when the rotation had a 5.19 ERA, but that was the first year of Coors Field, in the pre-humidor days. In the four post-season years since, the highest ERA for a rotation was 4.59 in 2017, nearly a full run lower than this year.

Overall, the Rockies offense has done a statistically decent job. They rank second in the NL with a .266 batting average, third in slugging percentage (.454) and lead the NL in runs scored (490). But the numbers have been beefed up at Coors Field. They are suffering through the worst road season in the NL, having hit only .221, last in the NL, and having scored only 195 runs, 12th among NL teams. The on-base percentage (.275) is also a distant last in the NL, and the .378 slugging percentage ranks 13th.

And it's a lineup-wide problem on the road. Only two of 14 players either on the active roster or Injured List have a higher road average than home -- Tony Wolters, whose .299 average on the road is 14 points higher than his home average, and Garrett Hampson, who is hitting .200 at Coors Field and .212 on the road.

At the other extreme, Pat Valaika may be struggling at Coors Field with a .128 average, but he is hitless on the road, and Charlie Blackmon has a 103-point drop in his average when he is on the road (.330 to .227).