Rockies week in review: Here’s a handy offseason to-do list

It’s a funny feeling, knowing that a baseball team is about to surrender a lead.

CHRISTIAN-lighter
Chad Qualls on the mound. Colorado Rockies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Coors Field, June 9, 2016. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)  colorado rockies; baseball; sports; jessica taves; denver; colorado; denverite

It's been a rough year for Chad Qualls and the Rockies bullpen. (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)

It’s a funny feeling, knowing that a baseball team is about to surrender a lead.

On Tuesday in Milwaukee, the Colorado Rockies were up 4-2 on the Milwaukee Brewers entering the top of the seventh inning. Starter Jon Gray gave Colorado six strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out 10. Then lefty reliever Jake McGee trotted out to protect the two-run lead to start the inning.

McGee got an out, but followed it up by allowing pinch hitter Orlando Arcia to crank a one-out double. Boone Logan came into the game next, and he let Jonathan Villar hit another double that scored Arcia. Three batters later, it was Carlos Estevez’s turn. With two on and two out, Estevez executed a pair of nice pitches to Hernan Perez to get him in a 0-2 hole. But Estevez made a mistake on his next pitch by leaving it in the zone instead of making Villar chase; Villar belted it down the right-field line for a two-run triple.

Just like that — poof — the lead was gone. Three relievers, three hits, three runs, one inning, the lead gone. After the game was over, a 6-4 loss, Purple Row summed things up nicely:

For Rockies fans, the prospect of the bullpen taking over in a close game has become a downright terrifying experience. Rockies relievers have a 5.20 ERA since the All-Star break, which has ballooned their ERA to 4.93 on the season — the third-worst mark in baseball. Colorado’s reserve arms have blown 20 saves this year, which is the fifth-worst mark in baseball. The Rockies have a 9-17 record in one-run games this year — one of the worst in the majors in terms of winning percentage — and perhaps the biggest reason why is the ‘pen.

Last offseason, general manager Jeff Bridich made three moves to try and improve the unit. He traded Corey Dickerson to Tampa Bay in exchange for Jake McGee and German Marquez. He signed Jason Motte to a two-year, $10-million deal, and then he inked Chad Qualls to a two-year deal worth $6 million.

So far, all three acquisitions have not performed well. McGee’s looked lost, giving up 47 hits and seven home runs in 37 2/3 innings for a 5.26 ERA. Motte, 34, has seen his fastball velocity decline along with his effectiveness. He’s up to a 5.66 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. Qualls, 38, has looked the worst out of the three with a 6.26 ERA. Next summer, he needs to be at the lake with his kids or another team, not on a team trying to make the playoffs.

The only relievers on staff right now who inspire any sort of confidence are Adam Ottavino and Logan. Ottavino still hasn’t allowed a run in the 16 1/3 innings he’s pitched since returning from Tommy John; Logan, whose deal is up after the season, has done a nice job against left-handed hitters this year.

Something has to be done about the bullpen this offseason if Colorado is serious about making a playoff run next year. On paper, the Rockies’ 2017 lineup looks terrifying. And for the first time since first Gulf War, there’s a lot to like about the starting pitching staff.

The bullpen is the team’s biggest flaw. I’m not sure what Bridich’s offseason to-do list looks like. But if I were putting it together, it’d look something like this.

  • Fix the bullpen
  • Figure out who should manage this team
  • Fix the bullpen
  • Fix the bullpen
  • Fix the bullpen
  • Fix the bullpen
  • Address the first base situation
  • Fix the bullpen
  • Fix the bullpen
  • Fix the bullpen