|Time for Bill Geivett to shake things up for the Rockies.|
One bad road trip and suddenly a fan base that was injected with optimism is jumping from the bandwagon as if it is filling up with smoke and flames. When things go bad for the Rockies, they go bad in a hurry.
Suddenly a team that looked like it didn't have any holes whatsoever now has far too many holes to count. The starting rotation is broken and battered. A guy who once looked to be the future long-term ace of this franchise, Jhoulys Chacin, has been terrible in his return. Juan Nicasio and Franklin Morales have been anything but the model of consistency, and without a major surprise from Jordan Lyles, this rotation would be Jorge De La Rosa followed by four games of hoping for an eight-run night from the offense.
The bullpen is the only thing that is in disarray more than the starting rotation. In a classic example of how baseball can humble someone, Rex Brothers was being talked about as an All-Star snub just 11 months ago. He was the best lefty reliever in baseball for the first half of 2013. Suddenly he can't find the plate, and when he does, the ball can't find a mitt, except for possibly a fan in the right field seats.
LaTroy Hawkins, brought in to shore up the bullpen and give Brothers a chance to grow as a pitcher before taking the reins as the closer, has been a nightmare. This is a guy who has been pitching since the infamous baseball strike of 1994. Expecting him to be productive and to get late inning outs was probably not the most logical of decisions anyway.
With the exception of Adam Ottavino, the Rockies bullpen has been nothing short of a train wreck. Watching this team, not one single pitcher, with the exception of Ottavino on most nights, gives fans the warm and fuzzy feeling that they are going to be dominant and get outs.
For the Rockies, there isn't much leeway to continue to struggle. They still sit at a very respectable .500 record. While the road trip was disastrous, remember back to 2007, the Rockies were climbing back into things and it looked like they were on their way. They had just swept the high powered Yankees at home and were heading to Toronto to start a 10-game road trip. Three blown saves from Brian Fuentes, and a 1-9 road trip led to fans feeling duped. Instead, the Rockies got back on the horse and played well the rest of the way. It wasn't easy, but they hung on by the skin of their teeth to make the playoffs, and eventually won the National League pennant.
Will the Rockies win the pennant? The easy answer to that question is probably not. This isn't going to be an easy ride for Colorado, and frankly, no one is expecting them to go to the World Series. However, if they want to make noise, if they want to actually be in contention in September, they can't afford too many more bad stretches.
The reality is, both the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers aren't going anywhere. The Giants are a league-best 37-20 despite not having the talent on paper to be that good. The Dodgers have been hitting speed bump after speed bump, have yet to hit their stride, and are still 31-28. The fact is, neither of those teams figure to go away. The Rockies are going to need to play extremely good baseball to stick around in the race.
To play really good baseball, they have to figure out how to win on the road. The finger can be pointed in many different directions as to whose fault it is that the Rockies can't win on the road. It is easy to suggest that it is management, that it is the players, that it is the front office, that it is player development, or any other reason. However, with 22 years of struggles on the road, the reality is, the reason the Rockies can't win on the road is something that no one really has the answer to. To suggest that it is an easy fix has nearly a quarter century of evidence that would suggest it isn't an easy fix.
With the road struggles raring their ugly head, it is very important for the Rockies to win at home. Their struggles away from Coors Field put a significant amount of pressure on them to win at home. The problem with that kind of pressure is that baseball is a long season. To be constantly under high pressure -- at home to win nearly every game -- on the road to scrape a few games away from the opponent when it seems very difficult -- can start to tax a team. Baseball is 162 game season. To play with that much pressure every single day is exhausting.
To try and play with that kind of pressure with a rotation that boasts only two guys who have been reliable enough to take some of the pressure off of the offense makes the task even more difficult. The reality is, the odds are stacked against the Rockies.
However, this is still a team that can succeed. They have reinforcements at the minor league level for the first time in many years. They will eventually get both Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson back from their injuries. In four weeks, Nolan Arenado should be back in the lineup and bring a boost to the club.
With the idea that the Rockies can still make a run, they need to bridge the gap right away. They must find a way to succeed while they wait for the three injured players to return. If that means calling up a couple of prospects and taking a chance on them, then now is the time to make that move. It is time to take a chance on Tyler Matzek, Christian Bergman, Eddie Butler or Jon Gray. They don't have to, and don't need to, take a chance on all of them, but with the season slipping away, there is no longer any room for error. There is no time to keep watching Franklin Morales fail as a starter.
The Rockies can stay in this race. They need to be willing to adjust and make some bold moves, even if those moves weren't in their original plan.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"