What's the Problem? Rockies Struggling to Overcome Early Inning Offensive Effort
Just when it appeared the Rockies were making a move to undo the season-opening struggles they ran into a problem -- they had to play the Brewers. With back-to-back losses in Milwaukee on Monday and Tuesday, the Rockies have slipped four games below .500 (13-17), six games back in the NL West, and are eighth in the wild-card standings, where fellow NL West members Arizona and San Diego are tied for the wild-card lead.
The slow start in the standings has been accompanied by a slow start in games. The Rockies not only have scored only 12 runs in the first two innings of their 30 games, but they have allowed 23 runs. The 11-run negative differential is the second worst in the NL, five runs better than the Giants.
Meanwhile, the Rockies are second in the NL in runs scored in the ninth inning or later with 20, three back of the Nationals, and have a positive run differential in the ninth inning and later of four, which ranks sixth in the NL, one of seven teams with a positive late-inning run differential. The D-backs, who are at Coors Field for three games this weekend, Giants and Padres all have a positive late-inning run differential of nine runs.
The problem has been trying to overcome the late-inning deficits because of a lack of early-inning offense. Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers was a perfect example. The Rockies were limited to two hits and three walks in the first 8 1/3 innings. They only had two at-bats with a runner in scoring position the first eight innings -- Ryan McMahon lined out to end the first with runners on first and second, and Nolan Arenado popped up with two men on the third.
Brewers pitches had retired 17 consecutive batters before Daniel Murphy drew a one-out walk in the ninth. He scored on an ensuing double by Arenado, and then, with two out, Ian Desmond delivered a two-run home run. Josh Hader, however, regrouped, struck out Mark Reynolds, and the Brewers had a victory.
The Rockies have scored 125 runs in their first 30 games, which ranks 10th in the NL in runs scored, but they have allowed 138 runs, a negative differential of 13 runs, the 12th worst differential in the NL, ahead of only the Mets (-19), Giants (-23) and Marlins (-63, yes, -63). The Brewers (-2) and Mets are the only teams in the NL who have a winning record but a negative run differential.
The Rockies do rank 10th in the NL with a 4.40 ERA, which isn't out of line with the last two seasons, when the Rockies made back-to-back post-season appearances for the first time in franchise history. They rank 10th in the NL right now compared to 12th a year ago, and ninth in 2017.
But the offense has been in enough of a funk that there is not much of a late-inning charge to offer. The Rockies are only hitting .216 as a team from the seventh inning on, 13th in the NL, and 73 points of the NL-leading Mets.
Among current players on the roster or injured list, Charlie Blackmon is the only regular (.300) above .280 in the later innings.