Monday, September 2, 2013

Colorado Rockies get to Kershaw, but show flaws in rotation

It isn't everyday that any team gets to Kershaw. The Rockies did on Monday.
Colorado Rockies fans would loved to have Monday's loss to the Dodgers be a heart breaker.

Instead, there were positives to be taken away from the game, as well as negatives. However, no one left the park feeling down about the game from Rockies perspective.

September 2nd arrived once again for the Rockies and they are playing baseball that has little impact on the outcome of the season. If a team is bent on winning, third place and fifth place are the same. They both represent a spot on the couch for the postseason.

Unfortunately for Rockies fans, that has become an all too common scenario. When the record suggests that it is time to look to the future, games in September really become very similar to games in March. Instead of focusing on winning, or what the final score of the game was, the focus turns to each individual aspect of the game.

In March, no one cares if the team loses more than they win. It is spring training. It doesn't count. The idea is to look for areas to get better, to work on fundamentals and evaluate. That is the same feeling that Monday's game at Coors Field felt like.

The positives are that the Rockies offense, void of many of the stars, got to Clayton Kershaw. The Dodger lefty is perhaps the best in the game. It would be tough to argue that he isn't in the top three. All season long he has been nearly untouchable. He entered the game with a 1.72 ERA. When that is a pitcher's ERA in September, and he also leads the league in games started, it carries plenty of weight.

The Rockies, however, ignored how good Kershaw has been and lit him up for five runs in five innings. It was the first time all season long that Kershaw had given up that many runs. Consider the fact that entering the game he had given up just 39 earned runs all season long should show just how impressive scoring five on him--Coors Field or not--really is.

The offense was great. There is very little more that could be asked of a team facing one of the best in the game. They did their job.

With the offense in stride, the problem on Monday was one that has been ugly all season. For as good as the first three guys in the rotation are, the back two have been equally unimpressive. Chad Bettis may turn out to be a good pitcher at the big league level, but the jump from Double-A to the big leagues hasn't been friendly to him. His five runs in less than five innings was once again evidence of that. After 105 pitches, he still wasn't out of the 5th inning. That is the sign of a guy afraid to attack the strike zone because he doesn't have confidence that his stuff is good enough to get outs.

Kershaw's struggles allowed Bettis to escape without a loss, however, Jeff Manship, the converted starter, came in and allowed the dagger.

Manship underscores the next aspect that should be evaluated. This Rockies pitching staff has two guys on it who should be nowhere near a Major League mound. Jeff Francis, for as much as he did for the Rockies in their 2007 playoff run, has no business pitching in the big leagues. He isn't effective, he doesn't get outs, and the idea that he will be better as a reliever is blind hope. Manship is the other example. The idea that a big league team would ask him to get important outs isn't fair to him. He was called up to make a spot start, but got fortunate enough to collect a big league check for close to a month.

The fact that those two guys, coupled with Bettis, who was called up early due to lack of depth, shows the glaring factor in the situation. The Rockies have no other options in their minor league system. That points to deep issues that should have Rockies fans concerned.

The Rockies couldn't get the job done on Monday, but they were able to evaluate a few areas. One of those areas has shown itself to be the overriding factor in just how bad this team is in need of change. If a team that claims to build from within, when they have no one on the cusp of the big leagues, and no one who gets the job done when they are called up, it screams for change.

For Rockies fans, that change shouldn't be expected any time soon.

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