Things are getting better in LoDo. At least this is what the Colorado Rockies say.
There’s optimism in the Rockies locker room that’s uncommon for a team that was 16 ½ games back in the National League West and 8 games behind in the NL Wild Card race as of Friday morning.
Maybe it’s the mountains? (It’s hard to be mad when you look out your window and see those things every day.)
Or maybe it’s the emergence of some young players and a starting rotation that is at east adequate. Shortstop Trevor Story is on pace to finish with the second-most home runs for a rookie ever. And young arms Jon Gray Gray and Tyler Anderson have found their groove to round out a pitching staff that’s seventh in the MLB in road ERA (3.83).
Colorado is clearly not a playoff-caliber team right now. A two-game stretch against the last-place Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday and Thursday was proof enough.
The Rockies entered Wednesday as winners of three of their four post-All-Star-break games. They had a chance to beat up on one of the worst road teams in baseball. But they squandered it with two of their worst performances of the season, losing the games by a combined score of 21-4 and striking out 27 times.
There’s so much to like about this Colorado team. Third baseman Nolan Arenado (.287/.359/.554 with 21 HR and 71 RBI) looks like one of the five or 10 best position players in baseball. Second baseman D.J. LeMahieu (.327/.391/.487) and center fielder Charlie Blackmon (.307/.369/.480) are both enjoying career years. There’s Story, who’s continued to mash home runs long past the point many figured he’d fade away. And then there’s Carlos Gonzalez (.318/.367/.552 with 20 HR), who’s playing like Carlos Gonzalez.
But here we are again in late July, and the Rockies are a sub-.500 team. Colorado hasn’t won more than 73 regular season games since 2010 and hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since 2009. Will the tide ever turn? The players sure seem to think so.
“There is improvement,” said Gonzalez after Thursday’s win over the Braves. “There are some good players in this clubhouse. Obviously, our rotation is in a better place.”
That might be true. But when will the improvement be marked instead of marginal?