|Do the Rockies need a starter, or a hitter?|
On Sunday, Jhoulys Chacin continued his impressive statement for the Rockies. In picking up his ninth win, the right-hander went six strong innings, giving up one run on six hits. He struck out six and walked three. He was done after 94 pitches.
The defining moment for Chacin, which was a prime example of the step that he has taken in his career, came in the 6th inning. With the Rockies up 3-1, Chacin walked Andre Ethier to begin the frame on four pitches. After getting A.J Ellis to fly out, Scott Van Slyke singled up the middle to allow the go-ahead run to step to the plate with only one out.
In years past, this is where Chacin would implode. The script became so predictable that it was tough to watch. A great five innings would go by the wayside as Chacin would give up three or four runs and pitch his offense out of the game.
However, over the past two months, something has changed. Chacin, instead of folding and failing to throw his best pitches, has become more mentally tough. He isn't giving in to hitters. He isn't afraid to throw on the inside half of the plate, and he challenges the batters instead of trying to hit the corners in an effort to get the strikeout.
On Sunday, he continued his recent trend. With the game hanging in the balance, Chacin got Jerry Hairston to strike out on three pitches, then got Yasiel Puig to fly out to center field, ending the threat and allowing the Rockies to go back to the dugout in the same situation that they were in when they left it.
Chacin lowered his ERA to an impressive 3.50. With nine wins he leads all Colorado pitchers in wins.
The offense once again struggled. The only production came from the bat of All-Star Michael Cuddyer. His 1st inning RBI single got the Rockies on the board for the first time since Friday, and his 5th inning two-run homer was the dagger in the back to the Dodgers.
With calls for the Rockies to make a deadline move to be a winner, the reality might have to slap some in the face. This baseball team doesn't need another starter. This team needs hitters.
The story is 20-years-old. The Rockies can't hit on the road. It is something that is baffling. Sure, Coors Field helps out the batting average, but the adjustment that it takes to go on the road is a problem that no team wearing purple has been able to figure out.
However, this is a team that has been so highly-touted for it's offense, there is no excuse for the lack of production they have displayed for over a month now. This team was shutout twice on the roadtrip and scored one run two other times. The two times they scored one run, both came in the 9th inning after complete futility in the first eight frames.
Despite having young hitters, this team has enough Major League experience that they shouldn't be having trouble scoring runs. Wilin Rosario, who hit 28 home runs in his rookie campaign, is typically hitting in the six or seven hole. The ability to hit the ball out of the park is prevalent from top to bottom in the order.
Every team is going to go through stretches where they can't move runners over, where they can't score runners in scoring position, and where they make bad pitchers look like Cy Young. However, that trend shouldn't continue for more than a couple of weeks. Even with Troy Tulowitzki out of the lineup, this is a team that should be able to put runs on the board.
The other side of the coin is that the Rockies may not have the most depth in their starting rotation. Their fourth and fifth spots have been a black hole. However, the top three spots, between Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood, have pitched well enough for their team to win in seemingly every outing. The reality is, the majority of teams would love to upgrade the backside of their rotation. The Rockies pitching issues are no different than the majority of Major League teams.
The Rockies will benefit from the All-Star Break. They have played like a team that has been worn out by the long season.
With the fan base calling for the front office to pick up a starting pitcher, the real need on this team might be for someone who can make a difference at the plate.
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