MLB Team Report - Colorado Rockies - INSIDE PITCH
The Rockies go into the second half with a 40-55 record. They are 13 games behind and a half game out of last place in the National League West. But they have hope for improvement as some of their injured players have recently returned, notably third baseman Nolan Arenado and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez. They lengthen the lineup and both are superb defensive players.
But the Rockies are going to have to get better starting pitching to make any significant strides. They used 13 starters in the first half and will come out of the break with a rotation composed of left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, left-hander Brett Anderson, left-hander Tyler Matzek, left-hander Franklin Morales and Eddie Butler.
Matzek and Butler are rookies, with Butler scheduled to make a second and final rehab start as he recovers from an inflamed shoulder. Both are on the steep portion of the major league learning curve. Anderson missed three months due to a fractured left index finger before returning Sunday and understandably showing his rust when the Minnesota Twins had five straight hits, seven in all, and five runs in the first inning, although he made it through the fifth and allowed just one more unearned run.
Morales is a swing man who has made 13 starts and nine relief appearances this season and has a 5.26 ERA with 18 homers allowed in 87 1/3 innings. He seems better suited for the bullpen but will have to make at least three starts after the break until Jordan Lyles is ready to return.
The Rockies had targeted Lyles' return from a broken left (non-pitching) hand -- he was injured June 4 -- on July 28. But on Sunday, they moved him to the 60-day disabled list because the latest X-ray showed the bone was healing as fast as hoped. This procedural move won't cause Lyles a lot of time but will delay his return to the Rockies rotation until at least Aug. 5. And given his lengthy layoff, Lyles is likely to be rusty.
The Rockies' almost frantic search for pitching led them to sign retread starters such as Brett Tomko, 41, and Chris Capuano, 35, both pitching at Triple-A Colorado Springs. They seem like the latest attempts to stop time by the Rockies, who brought back Roy Oswalt last year and Jamie Moyer in 2012 with little success.
If the Rockies are lucky, a prospect like Jon Gray, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, might make enough progress at Double-A Tulsa to warrant being called up in September. But right now, he's far from ready for the big leagues.
The Rockies typically struggle on the road, and this season is no different, albeit a little worse with a 16-30 record. But for the Rockies to have any chance to succeed, they most dominate at Coors Field. They dropped two of three games to the Twins before the All-Star break to fall to 24-25 at home. Worse, the Rockies have lost 18 of their past 26 games at Coors Field. And their remaining schedule includes 35 games on the road and 32 at home.
"Our depth certainly got challenged, particularly on the mound," manager Walt Weiss said. "But we are where we are. It's real important we play well right away in the second half."
Everyone thinks we're going to put together a run at some point," Weiss said. "But, obviously, the clock is ticking. We need to do it now, as we speak."
MLB Team Report - Colorado Rockies - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost two
FIRST-HALF MVP: SS Troy Tulowitzki is one of the best players in the game this season, one who can impact a game on both offense and defense. He stayed healthy, unlike some past seasons, thanks to a very disciplined diet and exercise routine, and he is putting together what could turn out to be his best year. He is hitting .345 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs along with a .435 on-base percentage and a .613 slugging percentage and nearly as many walks (48) as strikeouts (55). At Coors Field, Tulowitzki is batting an otherworldly .417/.497/.748 with 14 home runs in 163 at-bats compared to a more pedestrian .265/.367/.463 on the road with seven homers in 147 at-bats. Tulowitzki also is routinely brilliant in the field.
FIRST-HALF GRADE: D -- The Rockies fell behind often but did an admirable job of coming back in games and not quitting. That is a reflection of manager Walt Weiss, who is respected in the clubhouse. The front office thought there was better depth this year, but that proved to be wrong. Injuries took a toll on the rotation, but too often the Rockies ran out inadequate replacements such as LHP Yohan Flande, RHP Jair Jurrjens and RHP Christian Friedrich, who combined to make eight starts and go 0-6 with a 7.47 ERA. RHP Juan Nicasio, the season-opening fifth starter, pitched his way back to the minors. The bullpen was supposed to be a strength, but it experienced difficulties, too.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: Just back from injury, LHP Brett Anderson will be asked to help revive a struggling pitching staff. In the final game before the All-Star break, Anderson made his first appearance since April 12, when he fractured his left index finger making contact on a swing. Anderson showed his rust Sunday, giving up five runs in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins. An effective Anderson could bring order to a Rockies rotation that is in disarray and is responsible for most of the team's worst-in-the-majors 5.07 ERA.
BUY OR SELL: The return to health of some injured players will continue to give the Rockies a boost, as well as the illusion that they are adding pieces. However, given their woeful record, the Rockies will listen and be ready to sell off parts if deals make sense. RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Matt Belisle and LHP Jorge De La Rosa could be on the block, though De La Rosa can be a free agent at the end of the season. The possibility of trading stars such as SS Troy Tulowitzki and RF Carlos Gonzalez looms as an offseason matter, not something likely to happen in the next few weeks.
INJURY STATUS: The Rockies are starting to return to health, having welcomed back 3B Nolan Arenado, RF Carlos Gonzalez and LHP Brett Anderson in the past two weeks. However, RF Michael Cuddyer, the reigning NL batting champion, isn't likely to return until late August. RHP Jhoulys Chacin missed the first month with right shoulder inflammation, then struggled in May and June before the shoulder began giving him problems again. He likely is done for the year. RHP Tyler Chatwood made four starts in April before elbow soreness put him on the disabled list. He endured two setbacks, and he could be staring at a second Tommy John surgery.
TOP PROSPECT: RHP Eddie Butler made his major league debut June 6, getting promoted from Double-A Tulsa, where he went 4-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts. Butler was brought up to take the place of LHP Franklin Morales, who was moved to the bullpen. The day after he pitched into the sixth and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Butler reported to Coors Field with soreness under his right armpit and went on the disabled list. He is scheduled to make his second rehab start Thursday and rejoin the major league rotation next week. Butler, 23, has a live arm, a varied pitch mix and enough stuff to succeed.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's important to get a breather here. It's the only time for six or seven months that we're able to do that. But when the second half starts, we need to play with a sense of urgency." -- Manager Walt Weiss, on his 40-55 Rockies team.
MLB Team Report - Colorado Rockies - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Jordan Lyles (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list June 5, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 13. He threw 30 pitches in live batting practice July 11. He also fielded grounders hit right at him for the first time. The Rockies scheduled Lyles for three rehab starts. He is due to begin his rehab assignment July 18, likely with Double-A Tulsa, and make his second rehab start five days later.
--RHP Eddie Butler (right rotator cuff inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7. An MRI exam revealed no structural damage. He threw off a mound June 16. He threw a simulated game July 8. He made his first rehab start July 12 for Class A Modesto. On July 17, Butler is scheduled to throw 75-80 pitches for Triple-A Colorado Springs. The Rockies then will decide whether Butler needs a third rehab start.
--RF Michael Cuddyer (non-displaced fracture of left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 21. He is scheduled to receive a follow-up MRI exam July 21.
--RHP Tyler Chatwood (right elbow flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list April 30, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 5. He underwent an MRI exam that ruled out a tear in the elbow. He began throwing program from 50 feet May 23. He threw at 75 feet May 27. He threw from 105 feet June 3. He threw a bullpen session in mid-June. He has had two setbacks and could be staring at Tommy John surgery, which he had in high school.
--RHP Nick Masset (left patellar tendon strain) went on the 15-day disabled list July 6. He was expected to throw from the slope of the mound on July 12 and, barring a setback, throw a bullpen session July 13. Masset will likely need a two-game rehab before returning to the Rockies, trainer Keith Dugger said.
--RHP Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list June 30, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 4. He does not need surgery but is facing a lengthy rehabilitation. He will get a platelet-rich plasma injection July 8. There is a chance he won't return to action this season.
--RHP Christian Bergman (broken bone in left hand) went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to June 21. He will be in a soft cast until early August, and he won't be ready to return before mid-August.
LHP Jorge De La Rosa
LHP Tyler Matzek
LHP Franklin Morales
LHP Brett Anderson
RHP LaTroy Hawkins (closer)
LHP Rex Brothers
RHP Adam Ottavino
RHP Matt Belisle
RHP Tommy Kahnle
RHP Chad Bettis
RHP Brooks Brown
LHP Boone Logan
1B Justin Morneau
2B DJ LeMahieu
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Nolan Arenado
INF Josh Rutledge
INF Charlie Culberson
LF Corey Dickerson
CF Charlie Blackmon
RF Carlos Gonzalez
OF Drew Stubbs
OF Brandon Barnes