It is getting late early this season for the Rockies.
They have stumbled to the worst start in franchise history – going into Sunday’s series finale against the Giants at what used to be known as AT&T Park they are 3-12 and have lost eight in a row.
And it comes in a season that had the best hope in franchise history – coming off back-to-back post-season appearances for the first time ever and with a young nucleus.
Now, there are 147 games remaining in the regular season.
There is plenty of time to rebound.
Heck, the Dodgers were in the World Series last year, beating the Rockies in a Game 163 to decide the NL West champion, and they were sinking fast. On May 16 they were 10 games below .500 (16-26). And they are even 8-8 this season – 5-8 against teams other than the Rockies.
The defending world champion Red Sox (5-10) went into Sunday tied for last place in the AL East, and the Cubs are sitting at the bottom of the NL Central. So, the Rockies do have some royal company in the struggle that has been the opening weeks of the season.
It is not an impossible challenge the Rockies face, but it also isn’t an early season start that can simply be shrugged off.
As veteran Mark Reynolds put it in the aftermath of Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Giants, “at some point you gotta hit the panic button and you gotta start doing the little things right.”
Sometimes, it’s best to just take a deep breath and relax.
Easier said than done.
“The baseball player's No.1 go to when they are not hitting is, they have got to hit more,” said Reynolds. “When they are not doing something right, they work on it to death. Sometimes you have to take a step back.”
And right now, the Rockies aren’t hitting nor are they pitching.
That eight-game losing streak they took into Sunday? Well, it’s tied for 10th longest in franchise history, along with 15 other times in franchise history that the Rockies have lost eight in a row.
For the optimist, however, remember the 2007 season, when the Rockies made their only appearance ever in the World Series?
Welp, they lost eight in a row that year from July 22-29. But they also finished that season winning 14 of the final 15 regular season games – including beating the Padres in a Game 163 for the NL wild-card spot – and then swept the Phillies in three games in the NL Division Series, and D-Backs in four games in the NLCS before being swept by the Red Sox in four games in the World Series.
So, what needs to happen to get the Rockies back on track?
“Guys are going to press, but we as a team need to overcome that and find a way to win,” said Ian Desmond. “Some things have to change. Some things have to be shaken up. Some things have to be done different. We need to figure it out.
“We have a good collection of guys in here. We are a team. We win as a team. We lose as a team. Of course, some guys are going to press, but we have to overcome that as a team and find ways to win games.”
The struggle has certainly been a team effort, with a bit of misfortune thrown in.
Seven players counted on to be key factors are on the injured list.
There is the expectation that Senzatela will be activated and start Monday night’s game in San Diego in place of the injured Anderson.
The offense has been in a funk. The Rockies went into Sunday hitting .203, less than a percentage point better than the Reds, who ranked 15th in the NL. They have the lowest on-base percentage (.261), slugging percentage (.313) runs scored (42) and home runs hit (9) and lead the NL with 151 strikeouts.
Nolan Arenado, still looking for his first home run, is hitting .246. That’s the highest among any position player on the active roster. David Dahl, on the disabled list, was hitting .343 before he was injured a week ago.
And then there is a rotation that was so critical to the Rockies success a year ago. Kyle Freeland and German Marquez opened the season with back-to-back wins in Florida. The rotation went into Sunday 0-11 in the 13 games since. The Rockies rotation ranks last in the NL in ERA (5.75), winning percentage (.154) and batting average allowed (.285)
Get the picture?
There are a lot of moving parts that have headed in the wrong direction to open this season, but the ability is there to get things back in order.
So far, however, that has appeared to be far easier to say they accomplish.