After giving up a six-run lead on Saturday, the Rockies came out with a lackluster performance on Sunday ended in a 8-2 loss, dropping their six straight series.
The offense once again failed to show up, but the reason for the pressing at the plate has become clear.
Jim Tracy is showing exactly why he was fired in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. His bullpen management is awful. When the Rockies are on the negative side of the game, they may as well pack it in in the late innings.
Tracy is a man who is extremely detailed. He thinks of every possible scenario long before it ever comes to play. That was an endearing part of his game when he managed the Rockies out of the hole that they dug when he took over in 2009. Now, it seems to be his most annoying characteristic.
On Sunday, Tracy thought deep enough into the game that he wanted starting pitcher Jason Hammel to be able to pick up a win. Chris Iannetta has struck out to end the sixth inning, so, with Hammel due up to lead off the seventh, the manager decided that he could pinch hit for him and that he would have a chance to pick up the win if he just made it through the seventh.
That move makes sense if the guy is throwing a shutout, or has given up one run and his offense hasn't gotten going. However, Hammel was laboring through his outing. At the 100 pitch mark, Hammel had thrown just 60 strikes. That isn't a terrible ratio, but by no means was he dominant.
By giving Hammel a chance to win the game, he ensured that he would lose it.
After Hammel gave up a couple of hits, Tracy went to the bullpen, calling on Franklin Morales, who promptly served up a two-run double to Will Venable. One pitch and Morales was done. Tracy went to the other gas can in the bullpen, Felipe Paulino. Paulino gave up three hits and one run, plus the run that was on base charged to Morales. Suddenly, with a five-run seventh inning, the Rockies were down 8-2 instead of 3-2.
More baffling was the fact that Tracy went to Matt Reynolds in the ninth inning, when the game was over. Why not go to Reynolds when the club is only down by one? Why trust Morales any longer to face lefties?
To Tracy's credit, playing with a five-man bullpen is next to impossible in the big leagues. He has to put some faith in the Paulino and Morales, simply so that Matt Belisle and Matt Lindstrom's arms don't fall off. However, in the past two weeks, those two pitchers have pitched the Rockies out of four games. Continuing to go back to them in pressure situations is simply stupid.
The excuse for keeping Morales and Paulino around is that they are out of options. That means that in order to get them to the minor leagues, the Rockies have to expose them to all of the other teams first. At this point, however, why allow them to continue to pitch their team out of games simply because they want to keep them in the organization? It makes more sense to let someone go for nothing and not have them be a risk on the field, then to simply let them play horribly and hurt the team. Those decisions are tough to make, but at some point, they have to be made.
There is no excuse for the hitter's lack of production. However, an offense that is already scuffling is going to feel that much more pressure to put up a huge number when they are down by a run or two because the bullpen pitchers that are going to be coming in, even with a one or two run deficit, they feel like they have to score six or seven runs to be in it.
This team is reeling, and Jim Tracy making the same move that contains no logic over and over again is not going to endear him to the players in the clubhouse. It is time for whoever is pulling the trigger on the Morales-Paulino combo to be called out, whether that is O'Dowd, or Tracy, and that decision needs to be made. It's either that, or risk throwing away the season.