|Eddie Butler got knocked around, but showed promise in his debut.|
The Colorado Rockies got to see first-hand what Butler is all about. He throws three strong pitches, a sinking fastball, a changeup and a slider that are all Major League material. The right-hander clearly has good stuff, but it wasn't good enough on Friday night. The storybook first start didn't exist for Butler, who took the loss in his first big league game.
Butler gave up six runs on 10 hits in 5-1/3 innings. The stat line doesn't look good for the righty. It wasn't what he was looking to do, but he showed some poise and showed that he knows how to pitch. He simply struggled to get out of innings.
The Rockies offense was lifeless. They couldn't get anything going against Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. The continued the stretch of taking poor at-bats and swinging at pitches outside of the zone. The frustration showed through on several occasions when the Rockies would turn and argue with home plate umpire Dan Iassogna.
The Rockies have lost eight straight games. While no eight game losing streak is ever good, this stretch is particularly bad for the Rockies. These are games that they aren't even in. They are getting shellacked. When the opponent is scoring seven or more runs every night, the Rockies don't stand much of a chance, Coors Field or not.
The losing streak is not just a funk. It has exposed the serious issues that the Rockies have. It has exposed the flaws that the Rockies front office failed to deal with in the offseason, or botched with their plan. With the struggles of 2013, the bullpen was a clear area of need for the Rockies. They addressed those issues with LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan. Both of those additions have been utter failures.
The problem is, what free agent pitcher would voluntarily come to Coors Field? Not only do the statistics say that it is a tough place to pitch, Dan O'Dowd himself has said on numerous occasions that even he can't figure out why pitchers struggle there. If the front office members can't figure out why a pitcher can't succeed, why would a free agent make that choice?
Many Rockies fans have pointed to a certain level of depth in the organization that hasn't had any semblence of depth in years past. They point to Butler, Jon Gray, Dan Winkler, Tyler Matzek, Christian Bergman and others as reasons for hope that the Rockies will be good, whether it is in 2014 or later.
The problem is, whether it be this year or next, depending on that many pitchers who have never thrown a big league pitch is a problem. These guys may have all of the talent in the world, but anyone who has watched baseball for any amount of time knows that for every 10 prospects with promise, one very good Major League player arises. To think that every one of the Rockies prospects is not only going to be good, but factor into them contending in this year or next is simply an unrealistic expectation.
Face it, it is going to take Butler, Gray and Matzek and Winkler time to figure out how to pitch in the big leagues. Even when they figure it out, to assume that all of them will be more than back-end of the rotation starters is again assuming too much. Sure, Butler and Gray have top stuff, but until they become aces, it isn't fair to put that label on them.
There was plenty to be excited about in Butler's start. For one, he looks more like a pitcher than Franklin Morales. He got hit around, but he clearly has an idea of what he is doing. Morales looks like a classic 'thrower,' a guy who can throw hard so he just wings it to the plate and hopes for the best.
For the Rockies, the time has both come and gone for when they could hope to turn things around. This team has been down this road before, and everyone knows how it goes. To assume that this team has a chance to make a run ignores the clear bullpen issues and frankly isn't looking objectively at this team. This losing streak has pointed out so many issues, and despite it being early June, the Rockies are wasting valuable games in which they could hang around.
The Rockies have lost eight in a row, but four of those have come at Coors Field, where they absolutely must win a large majority of their games. This team is continuing the age-old issue of struggling on the road, so winning at home -- regardless of the opponent -- is a huge must. If the Rockies go .500 for the remainder of this homestand, they will hit the road going an abysmal 3-7 in a very important stretch.
With the Dodgers bound to play to their ability and the San Francisco Giants playing out of their minds, there is no reason to believe that the Rockies will be able to gain the ground that they need to to make things happen. For all intents and purposes, this team is already done.
The Rockies limp back to the park on Saturday afternoon. Eventually they are going to win. It might seem like they won't, but they are due to win sometime. Getting that monkey off of their back on Saturday would be a nice step in getting back to respectability.
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