Category Archives: MLB

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5 Keys to a Successful Colorado Rockies Offseason

What would it take for the Colorado Rockies to succeed this off-season? Come join me as I give you five keys to making it happen.

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When the Colorado Rockies ended the 2021 season, everyone expected the loss of Trevor Story. Kris Bryant trying to fill the power vacuum that was created though, I don’t believe many seen coming. So, while there is bound to be a surprise or two in store, I’m here to show how slow and steady can win the race.

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Fire Bill Schmidt and hire James Click.

I went in-depth with this potential franchise-changing move here. But to sum it up, the Colorado Rockies need an outside voice bringing a fresh perspective to the franchise. The latest World Series winning GM surprisingly became available due to a miser in Houston who wouldn’t offer him more than a year of job security. James Click would carry the clout necessary to ensure Dick would be willing to acquiesce the necessary power to re-align this club to what Coors Field and this loyal fan base deserve.

James Click’s specialty is finding pitching, especially in the low-cost international player pool. He is also familiar with working in a small market when he was in Tampa Bay’s front office before being hired by Houston in 2019. He was given credit for finding current Rockies ace German Marquez during his time there. In Houston they traded Jake Odorizzi at the deadline, Justin Verlander can leave during free agency, and they will still have six starters under contract until at least 2025. All six of those starters helped the 2022 Houston Astros clinch that World Series we mentioned earlier.

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Revamp the analytics department.

The first key will lead directly into the second. One of the biggest sticking points for Click leaving Houston wasn’t just about the money spent on him, but his analytics department. Coming from Tampa which has one of if not the most robust analytic departments in baseball it’s easy to see why he values analytics so much. The Monforts are tied for the 4th-lowest net worth at $700MM. That is obviously still very rich by any standard, but when you are competing against the Steve Cohens ($16 Billion) and Steinbrenners ($3.8 Billion) you need to be running your front office like your peer Stuart Sternberg (owner of the Rays).

Sternberg is just above the Monforts at $800MM and is a perfect case study of how you can be cost-conscious while putting a consistent contender on the field.  Four of the most consistently winning teams over the last decade (Rays, Braves, Astros, Dodgers) and the last three World Series Champs (Braves, Dodgers, Astros) can all trace their front office lineage back to Tampa Bay. And what is the consensus of baseball on why they have been so good? Their analytics department.

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Address the bullpen with familiar faces.

What is the most nauseating take for those clad in purple and black in LoDo? You can’t pitch at a mile high. The below four names know more than any that’s simply not true. While it is an inherent disadvantage to pitch half your games at Coors Field, it is not impossible.

Adam Ottavino is arguably one of the best relief pitchers in Colorado Rockies’ history. From 2012-2018 Otto was 17-18 with a 3.41 ERA, 17 SVs, 452 Ks in 390.2 innings, and a ERA+ of 136. When you remove his first full season of 2012 where he was adjusting from life as a former first-round pick as a starting pitcher into a late-inning reliever, that stat line drops the ERA to 3.12 and bumps the ERA+ to 149 with all 17 of those saves and 12 of the wins. He was also touted as a true leader in the bullpen. Something the Colorado Rockies are still sorely missing just beyond the right-field Bridich Barrier. And after coming off a season that saw him have the 2nd lowest ERA of his career (2.06) and 2.3 WAR (2nd best of career) over 66 appearances, it’s not just a nostalgia move. Otto is still lights out.

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After a rocky start to his career (no pun intended), Carlos Estevez is coming off his best season in purple pinstripes. He had a career-best 3.47 ERA and his 2nd-best total in ERA+ (135). His 1.1 WAR in 2022 more than doubled his career total to 2.1. Relief pitching is relatively inconsistent and infuriatingly futile to try and predict. But I have always been a proponent of if you find a guy that can find it at Coors, you keep him. Carlos can also be most likely retained at a low number to save money for other moves down the list.

What was said about Estevez applies to Jesus Tinoco. The only difference is it took a change of scenery to find his rhythm. Coming off a season in Texas that he posted a 2.18 ERA (albeit it in only 17 games) and .6 of his career .7 WAR. It’s not just me either, Brian Kenney stated on MLB Now on the MLB Network on November 14, 2022, that Tinoco is poised to turn the corner into a dominant force in the middle to the back-end of a bullpen.

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Miguel Castro is a direct replacement for a recent move made in LoDo to let Tyler Blach free to explore his options. Miguel doesn’t have the pedigree or ceiling of the above pitchers, but he has been a reliable “innings-eater” pitching at least 66 innings in 4 of the last 7 years. As mentioned above, pitching at Coors Field is treacherous for even the best in the game. So having someone that can consistently come in and take it on the chin is invaluable. Think back to Chris Rusin, Gabe White, Darren Holmes, et al.

There has been one consistently successful type of pitcher at altitude. Big fastball with movement and some combo of a high spin-rate slider/sinker/curve. The proof is in the puddin’, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jhoulys Chacin, Pedro Astacio, and German Marquez. Every one of the men mentioned matches this criterion. There are outliers that find success with a below-average fastball, but they are few and far between (i.e., Aaron Cook, Kyle Freeland). And most importantly, they should all be affordable with none making more than $4MM in 2022.

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Bring Brandon Nimmo back to the Rockies.

Brandon is a top-tier athlete that grew up at an even higher altitude than Denver in Cheyenne, WY that has the Rockies home beat by almost 800 ft at 6,036’ above sea level. So, he knows the rigors of roaming center field at altitude. A former first-rounder (13th overall) of the New York Mets has spent his entire career in the pressures of the Big Apple. There are some grumblings mentioned by Brian Kenney on the same MLB Now episode mentioned before that he would listen to his childhood team should they make a pitch.

With Charlie Blackmon to at least start the season and Zac Veen seemingly poised for a big-league breakthrough sooner rather than later in right field. Plus Kris Bryant is entrenched in left field for at least the next couple of seasons with the paychecks he is owed. That leaves center as the biggest hole left in the outfield.

The Colorado Rockies have a long history of stellar outfielders, and the semi-local kid could put another notch on that belt. He is coming off his best season per WAR at 5.1. He is a top-of-the-order bat with pop as evidenced by his 53 combined extra-base hits and 130 OPS+. He is also a stellar defender with speed at 6’3” and 210 lbs. He’s built sturdy and seemingly born to thrive at 5,280’. He won’t be cheap, but somewhere in the 5-7 year and 130-170 million range should get him to the ballpark barring a bidding war.

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Bring in Seth Lugo as a starter.

Seth has spent the entirety of his career bouncing between the bullpen and rotation as a valuable piece of the New York Mets staff. Yes, there are a lot of New York Mets ties here, but why not? They only went and won 101 games in 2022. Why not pick off what you can from that golden goose while the gettins’ good?

Seth has a lively 4-seam fastball in the 94-96 range, a tight sinker at 92-94, and a high spin-rate curveball in the low that is unhittable when he has the feel for it. He also has a good slider he can throw for strikes. The spin rate on his curveball has never dipped below the 99th percentile in his entire career.

While it is a bit of a projection to make him a full-time starter and take him from Citi to Coors Field. But that is where the Colorado Rockies must shop for starting pitching. Lugo could help start to change that narrative and do it at a team-friendly rate for a few seasons to prove himself as an every-5th-day starter. The Rockies offer a low-pressure situation to establish a place as a starter.

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This is obviously contingent on a lot of variables, such as a front office shake-up in a franchise that hasn’t hired an outside voice of any note since 1999 when they brought in Dan O’Dowd. Then that same franchise not only staying at a record payroll number almost $30 million more than they ever have spent. They would have to go even higher to make all the moves listed.  

Currently, the Rockies are projected as 3rd in the league in payroll for 2023 at over $154MM. If they were able to make all these moves that number would be closer to $180-190MM. There is talk about the Rockies adding even more than they did last year, but even so, this is a tall task. Yet it is completely doable with the right motivations in the right places.

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Colorado Rockies Need to Click

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One of the more surprising divorces of the MLB offseason between the Houston Astros and former GM James Click could change for the Colorado Rockies.

Ken Rosenthal started this storyline spinning just before the 2022 MLB World Series started with this article. Then just a matter of days after the World Series ended with a Houston Astros victory over the Philadephia Phillies, it came to fruition. Even with the advanced warning, it still took the baseball world by storm.

Yes, the Colorado Rockies hired a new GM just over a year ago when they promoted Bill Schmidt from within. But the key word is “promote” and from a pool of internal options that have presided over some of the worst play and decision making in team history. Schmidt is a Jeff Bridich disciple who resigned during the 2021 season after the Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story fiascos. That saw both fan favorites and top talents end up in St. Louis and Boston respectively due to poor roster management and bad contract loopholes. Both players pointed the finger directly at the GM’s office as reasons why they wanted out.

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Though Bill Schmidt can claim to be on the staff that selected promising prospects Zac Veen, Ezequiel Tovar, Adael Amador, and Drew Romo (all on MLB.com top-100 prospects list). He wasn’t the key decision maker though, and no GM can hang their hat on one or two home runs. Especially when none of those tackle the main need in Denver, pitching. When you run a small market, you must maximize every pick and every signing to stay competitive. There may not be another front office executive available who understands this more than Click. Who started his career in the front-office model of small markets, Tampa Bay.

Click was a hasty hire after the Astros cheating scandal was revealed and previous World Series architect Jeffrey Luhnow was forced to resign in disgrace. Something has to be said for a man coming into that hurricane of hate and coming out the other side virtually unscathed. If he can fix the mess that was the Astros in February 2020. Then go to two World Series in three years, winning one. He should be able to figure out baseball at a mile high with his knowledge gained at the pitching factory that is the Tampa Bay Rays. He was on the staff that acquired current Rockies ace German Marquez from the Latin-American player pool.

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Click has been given much of the credit for finding those Latin-American players not only in Tampa, but in Houston as well. In just three short years he was able to revamp that tainted Astros roster. Only three players are left from the last Astros World Series championship team. And yet the Astros never truly fell out of contention. As mentioned, they went to two World Series, but also made the postseason in the other season. So that’s three playoff births, two World Series births, and one championship in his short stint in Texas. He was so good in the pitching department he had to unload Jake Odirizzi at the deadline for relief pitcher Will Smith. Even so, Houston still has six starters under contract through at least 2025. Even if veteran Justin Verlander also walks in free agency this offseason.

What has historically been the biggest issue with the Colorado Rockies? That’s right, pitching, and it has gotten worse under Schmidt in LoDo. The Rockies team ERA jumped from 4.82 to 5.06 from 2021 to 2022. And not a single Rockies starting-pitcher reached double-digit wins in 2022. Closer Daniel Bard was tied for second on the team with six victories. Bard was the sole bright spot in an otherwise forgettable year of pitching for the Colorado Rockies. Bard finished the season with a 1.79 ERA and 34 saves to go with those six wins. That won’t cut it at sea level, let alone the thin air of the Mile High City. Only fellow reliever Carlos Estevez ended the season with an ERA under 4.20.

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If owner Dick Monfort wants to re-instill the faith of the fan base he needs to stop worrying about whether or not his GM is his buddy and shake up the front office from the outside for the first time since Dan O’Dowd was hired after stints in Baltimore and Cleveland in 1999. What’s that definition of crazy again? The Colorado Rockies have been pounding the same nail for over two decade only to end up in the same place they were when this odyssey began. An also-ran that plays just well enough offensively to entice you, but pitches so poorly there’s not enough homers to compensate for their ineptitude.

James Click could be the one piece that completes this baseball puzzle over a quarter-century in the making. He knows how to work with a small scouting and analytics departments. Colorado is one of only 3 teams with smaller departments in those areas than the Astros and Rays. He knows how to find the diamond in the rough and maximize much lower draft picks than he would have in Denver, at least to start. And although he would have a much smaller payroll than Houston who was 9th at just over $194 million in 2022. But would be much larger than any he had in Tampa. Last year the Colorado Rockies were 17th at a little more than $158 million, as opposed to Tampa at 23rd paying out roughly $107 million to it’s players. All pay-roll numbers are per Spotrac.

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I’ve used this analogy before but it fits here as well, Click is a gourmet chef that can make a tasty meal with whatever is in the pantry. Schmidt is the bachelor heating up a Hungry Man TV dinner left by his former roommate. This is a business, and the Monforts need to start treating it as such.

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Rockies Lose 5th Straight to Dodgers

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The Rockies came into the night having lost 5 straight on the season and trying to avoid losing 5 straight to the Dodgers.

As the headline would allude, this did not happen for your Colorado Rockies. The Los Angeles Dodgers on the other hand came in with just 2 losses on the season, the best record in baseball at 10-2. With one of those loses coming on opening day against these Rockies in what was their home-opener as well. Since then both teams have went in completely opposite trajectories.

The first would see the Rockies mowed down by Dustin May on just 6 total pitches, including a 3-pitch swinging K against Garrett Hampson to start the contest. Jon Gray would be greeted with a much rockier start as Mookie Betts would lead off with a single. Gray would walk the next batter Corey Seager putting runners at 1st and 2nd with no outs and Justin Turner at-bat. Turner would come through with a single to right-center scoring Betts. Max Muncy would follow with a productive out, putting runners at 2nd/3rd with 1 out. Gavin Lux would drive in Seager with a sacrifice fly to deep-left. Gray would escape further damage by freezing Matt Beatty on an 89-mph slider on the outside corner.

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The next 2 innings would see the Rockies manage 3 singles, but nothing else while striking out 3 times. The bottom of the 3rd would see the next bit of scoring as Justin Turner turned around Gray’s 4th pitch of the inning 388 ft. to left-center making it 3-0 Dodgers up. The 4th inning had Colorado see their first real scoring opportunity as Ryan McMahon double to deep right-center. Then C.J. Cron would commence to strikeout swinging on a 99-mph fastball at his eyeballs. Then Sam Hilliard would fly out to shallow center to end their half of the inning.

Jon Gray would take the mound in the bottom of the 4th and looked dominant. Sitting the Dodgers down in order on just 15 pitches. He was at 89 total pitches, but I believe he earned to at least start the 5th after the way he looked in the 4th including making Mookie Betts look silly on 95-mph high-cheese to end the frame. But unfortunately, I don’t make those decisions.

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The 5th inning would see the Rockies finally end their scoreless streak at 26 innings after back-to-back shutouts against San Francisco to end that series. And against the Dodgers to begin this one. Dom Nunez would start off the inning with a strikeout. Yonathan Daza would pinch-hit for Gray and single to right. Then Hampson would showcase that speed again and reach on an infield single. Raimel Tapia would then walk and load the bases with just 1-out. Then Trevor Story, after a start to the season that saw him batting .265 despite a .305 XBA and average exit-velocity of 91.7. He would get jammed but fight it off to right scoring Daza to make it 3-1 and leaving the bases loaded. Charlie Blackmon would allow Hampson to show off that speed again as he would hit a roller to the shortstop in the shift which left the only play at 2nd where Seager threw out his counterpart Story to get the 2nd out of the inning. This would end the night for Dustin May with a 3-2 score. Victor Gonzalez would come in and McMahon would ground out to end the threat with runners on the corners.

Four Rockies relievers would combine to complete the final 4 innings of work. They would combine to give up 5 hits and 1 run (a Zach McKinstry home run in the 8th). Which would put us at the final score of 4-2. They would strike out 5, but also walk 3, continuing a concerning trend for the entire Rockies pitching staff. They are dead-last in WHIP (1.57) and walks allowed (61).

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It would take five Dodgers relievers to finish the last 5 innings of work for them. Their quintet would combine for 5 shutout innings, 2 hits, 2 BBs, and 6 strikeouts. That put the Rockies at 12 strikeouts for the game when you factor in the 6 Dustin May racked up in 4.1 innings of work. This against just 8 for the Dodgers hitters. The Dodgers pitchers also only gave up 2 walks to the Rockies 5 total walks issued. This is going to be a very long year for Rockies fans if this trend continues. As the Rockies have now scored 2 runs in their last 30 innings of play. This may end up being the worst Rockies offense in history, if the pitchers can’t hold their own, they have no chance at even a mildly successful season.

Unless you count tanking for the first overall pick in next years draft as a success?

Up Next:

@ Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday, April 15 at 8:10 PM MST

Where to Watch:

Colorado Market: AT&T SportsNet

Dodgers Market: SportsNet Los Angeles

Rockies Drop Series Opener 7-0 to Dodgers

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Rockies’ Starters were giving them a fighting chance only to see the bullpen implode. Tuesday saw roles reverse in their second straight shutout loss in California.

The Colorado Rockies came in actually out-slugging the Dodgers with 13 homers to their 10. This puts the Rockies at 8th in MLB in this category. This and a surprising Starters ERA of 3.18 are the only stats the Rockies could potentially feel good about. Despite this, they are coming off a 3-game weekend series sweep to the San Francisco Giants. Scoring 4 total runs in those 3 games. They got to face reigning NL-Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer for their troubles. It started and ended as you would expect the perennial basement dwellers facing the perennial division bully to play out.

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Trevor Bauer came out hot, retiring the Rockies in order to begin the game on 9 pitches. This included a 6 pitch strikeout of Trevor Story. The bottom of the first saw the Dodgers look to correct the above stat as Corey Seager sent one Antonio Senzatela offering 380 ft to deep left-center. Then in the very next at-bat, Chris Taylor went 396-ft to dead central. Oh, did I mention this is a night game in Los Angeles with a light fog? Meaning a cold, wet night on the Pacific. Balls are not supposed to fly in these conditions.

The second saw Bauer get wild as he would walk the first two batters. Then the Rockies would commence squandering opportunities as was the norm by The Cove. They would fail to put a single ball in play and have their next 3 batters mowed down in order, meaning they were incapable of even flipping the line-up. Leaving Senza to bat lead-off next time up. They did make him throw almost 30 pitches, so there’s that. Senza would answer by calming down in his half of the inning, putting the Dodgers down in order on just 11 pitches. Including a strikeout of his counterpart. Thus flipping the lineup.

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Why did I emphasize flipping the lineup? We got a front-row seat to its importance as you saw both the good and bad in the third. In the top half, the Rockies had Senza put up a fight, but ultimately go down looking after a 7-pitch at-bat. Then Garrett Hampson followed him with a dribbler up the 3rd-base line that Bauer gave his all to make an out and wound up hitting the foul-ground barrier instead of Max Muncy. Hampson could not advance on the errant throw, but after Ryan McMahon battled through a 6-pitch at-bat and put the ball in play and forcing a fielder’s choice.

Hampson was moving on the play and with his pure speed, he sat at second with 2 outs instead of 1 with Trevor Story at the plate. Then Bauer uncorked a wild pitch allowing Hampson to advance to third. Not flipping the lineup completely changes this at-bat for Story. Instead of relaxing and just looking to drive a deep fly, or maybe laying down a bunt, he had to stay high-strung and hunt the perfect pitch to get a hit. Including swinging at that wild pitch, Trevor would strike out swinging on 4 pitches.

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Then the Dodgers got their turn in the 3rd and showed why flipping the lineup is advantageous. Instead of an easy out to begin the inning, Senza got to face perennial MVP candidate Mookie Betts. Who promptly fought off 6 pitches before parking the seventh 379 ft. into the left-field bleachers giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Corey Seager would follow with a double to the gap in right-center. Senza would get the next 2 batters on a lineout and fly-out respectively.

Just as it looked like Senza might limit the damage, Will Smith walked on a 3-2 curveball that looked to be in the strike zone to me. But my opinion doesn’t count, so Smith got the base, and Senza visually and verbally voiced his opinion on the matter. Again, his doesn’t matter any more than mine. So, runners at 1st and 2nd 2-outs. One pitch gets you out, Senza would not provide that pitch. Gavin Lux would follow with a single-scoring Seager. AJ Pollock would then hit a routine ground-ball to Story who threw it in the dirt and CJ Cron couldn’t pick, allowing Will Smith to score and make it 5-0.

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That would be where Senza’s night would end and Jhoulys Chacin’s day would begin. Jhoulys would promptly pitched around Edwin Rios to load the bases as he knew light hitting Bauer was up next. Bauer would put the ball in play, but Story would get the 3rd out at 2nd. The Rockies bullpen would stem the tide, but never really stop it. Chacin would give up an RBI double to Muncy in the 4th, and Robert Stephenson would give up the 4th solo blast for the Dodgers to Max Muncy, a 415 ft. bomb to center in the 6th.

After that dribbler by Hampson however, there was a Bauer Outage. Trevor would sit down the last 14 batters he faced, in order. Even though he had over 50 pitches after 3 innings, Bauer would end his night at 98 pitches over 7 innings. That hit by Hampson being the only hit he gave up, with 2 walks. Giving up 3 total baserunners against 9 k’s. This opposed to the Rockies starter lasting 2.2 innings, giving up 2 home runs, 5 total runs (4 earned), 2 BB’s, and just 2 k’s. With David Price and Stephen Alexander being just as dominant in relief of Bauer.

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In fact, the Rockies wouldn’t have another baserunner until Hampson got him and the Rockies second hit to lead off the 9th, 17 at-bats later against Alexander. They would then see Dodger-killer Ryan McMahon strikeout leaving rookie Alan Trejo to take his 3rd career at-bat down 7-0. He promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning and the game.

The lone bright spots for the Rockies would be those 2 singles by Hampson, a couple of defensive gems from Fuentes, and Ben Bowden facing down the top of the Dodgers line up in the 8th, setting them down 1-2-3. Ending the inning on a 92-mph fastball down and in that froze Chris Taylor ending the frame. Wednesday the forecast in L.A. will match Denver with a Gray day, but Dustin May will be another challenge altogether from the puzzle they couldn’t solve in Trevor Bauer Tuesday night.

I will leave you with Buddy Black trying his best to give a sensible response other than “everything” when asked what needs to improve. Courtesy of the AT&T SportsNet RM Social Team:
Up Next:

@ L.A. Dodgers Wednesday, April 14 at 8:10 PM MST

Where to Watch:

Denver Market: AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain

L.A. Market: SportsNet Los Angeles

Opening Day in LoDo Gets Squirrely: Rockies Beat Dodgers

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Opening Day in LoDo saw 13 runs, but no homers, even though one was hit. Yea…I do my best to unravel an insane Opener to Rockies baseball.

It is finally that time of the year again, and there are fans in the stands on Opening Day at Coors Field. On a beautiful 72 degree and cloudless Colorado afternoon. For the first time in 2021, you get to see me talk about something other than Nuggets or Avalanche. We all got to some type of normalcy, with an announced 20,570 out of a possible 21,000+. I will say, I have been in Coors Field at full-capacity before the Party Deck. That was not an almost half-full stadium, thousands of tickets were available via Coloradorockies.com as of just 2 days ago, but I digress and will leave that debate for another day. Let’s focus on the game on the field.

The 2021 Opening Day in LoDo saw a battle of NL West aces. German Marquez for the Colorado Rockies, and Clayton Kershaw for the 2020 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. And we got to enjoy the 2 types of ace performances you can expect. A workmanlike 92 pitch 4-inning performance from Marquez, and a surgically precise 44-pitch start for Kershaw. That first 4 innings saw the workman top the surgeon with the Rockies taking a 2-1 lead into the 5th.

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How we got here was a winding tale. In the 3rd-inning we got treated to a home run that was, then wasn’t, then was, then ultimately wasn’t. This is the official scoring of what was ultimately ruled a single. Here is how Yahoo! Sports puts it in the books:

“Cody Bellinger singled to deep left-center, Justin Turner scored. Cody Bellinger out advancing on throw”

Yahoo! Sports Game Center Scoring

This was on a play that had Bellinger smoke a high fly ball that landed in left-fielder Raimel Tapia’s glove, then popped out and over the fence a la Jose Conseco’s Domer Homer. But unfortunately for Bellinger, Justin Turner, who was on first base, thought Tapia caught it when he came down looking like he was firing the ball back in. Turner scrambled back to first, causing Bellinger to pass him on the bases. Hence Turner scoring without ever crossing the plate, and Bellinger being ruled out and only being awarded an RBI.

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So much consternation was expressed on Rockies Twitter about the top of the lineup and where Josh Fuentes hit. But the bottom of the lineup is where the focus should have been. In the Rox half of the 3rd, you got to see what their offense will look like in 2021. Good old-fashioned small-ball based on speed and bat control. Chris Owings led off the inning with a triple to right over Mookie Betts who misjudged the ball off the bat. That was followed by Garrett Hampson pushing a bunt-single past a charging Max Muncy to tie the game at 1-1 as Owings would score. Marquez failed to move Hampson on a pop-up bunt to Kershaw. Tapia would follow with a grounded out to Kershaw that again showcased why speed kills as Hampson was able to safely make it to 2nd. This would prove crucial as Josh Fuentes started his solo story with a single to left-center scoring Hampson.

The 4th inning was again adventurous for Marquez, but he continued to find a way to end the night giving up only the 1 earned run despite 6 BB’s and 6 hits among those aforementioned 92 pitches. Those hits included 1 of the 2 Kershaw managed before being knocked out in the 5th. Here’s another stupid stat that shouldn’t be true, Kershaw is 9-22 on Opening Day for a batting average of .409 after his 2-3 performance at the plate Thursday. But even though Kershaw and company out-hit the Rockies 15-11. Their 2 errors and 3 wild pitches proved fatal.

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The Dodgers showed some life against 5th starter Chi Chi Gonzalez relieved Marquez in the 4th. Chi Chi ended up in this role as the Rockies won’t technically need a 5th starter until the end of April due to scheduling quirks. Problematically, he only lasted 2 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 5 hits and a walk. This allowed the Dodgers to tie the game 4-4 before he departed after the 6th.

That Dodgers’ defensive ineptitude mixed with the Rox flashing their own leather, racking up 3 double-plays. Including the insane diving stop by Owings on a hot-shot up the middle by Austin Barnes in the 7th. He then shoveled the ball to Trevor Story who pulled a full pirouette and fired to first for the 2nd out. A true beauty of a defensive gem. Chris Owings filled up the stat sheet to go along with that Web Gem as he went 3-3 with a triple, 1 RBI, 2 steals, 3 runs, and a walk.

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The bottom of the 6th is where Colorado really took hold of the game and never let go, no matter how the Dodgers threatened. Colorado showed more of the small ball in their half of the 6th when they shot 4 singles and a fielder’s choice lead to 2 Rockies runs giving them a 6-4 lead. The 7th would see more of the same as the inning started with a walk to Charlie Blackmon and a ground-rule double by C.J. Cron. They would both score on wild pitches by Jimmy Nelson before the side was retired and put the Rockies up 8-4.

The 8th saw Dodgers pinch-hitter Zach McKinstry lead off the inning with a double, then eventually brought in on a Corey Seager singled to center drawing to within 8-5 of the Rox. The Dodgers would fizzle after that despite a good level of fight left in them. That fight would show why the last 3 outs are always the hardest.

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Daniel Bard would start the top of the 9th by allowing a Max Muncy triple. Not too scary with a 3-run lead, but this is not where it would end. Chris Taylor would follow with a walk putting runners on the corners. Then Edwin Rios went down on strikes looking. Bard would then clip Will Smith on his elbow protector to load the bases with only 1 out. Matt Beaty then would pitch hit, only to forget to swing, as he would watch 3 straight 99-mph fastballs zing by for Bard’s second K of the inning. This left the last matchup you wanted, Mookie Betts, bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, down by 3. Thankfully for Rockies Twitter sanity, Daniel entered the lion’s den and left with a new fur coat. Coaxing a weak liner by Betts to Owings to seal his first save of the season on Opening Day 2021.

Up Next:

Vs. L.A. Dodgers Friday, April 2 at 6:40 PM MST

Where to watch:

Denver Market: ATT Sportsnet Rocky Mountain

L.A. Market: Sportsnet Los Angeles