The Colorado Rockies came into 2021 with aspirations of shocking the baseball world. After the trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado in February, the Rockies believed they were still competitors. The Rockies gave up perhaps the best third baseman to ever play the game and an estimated $51 million. The events that led up to that day in February have long been the Achilles’ heel of the Rockies franchise.
Early Season Outlook
Before the season even began, there was little to no faith in the team among fans. Baseball experts did not think highly of the team either. Official projections had the Rockies floundering to a 60-102 finish. While one person does not make a team, losing Arenado was a major blow. Furthermore, if the Rockies end up losing 100 games, it would be the first time in franchise history they did so.
Being a member of the competitive National League West doesn’t leave room for mistakes. With the emerging young talent such as shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the Rockies are finding themselves further behind in the division. Not only have the Padres found their grove, but the San Francisco Giants are considered contenders for the NL West crown. They have a potential ace in Kevin Gausman and the right pieces to dethrone the Dodgers. Colorado came into the season hoping their ace German Marquez would live up to his billing. While he has 11 wins and the lowest ERA of any Rockies starter, this hasn’t resulted in many wins overall.
The Colorado Rockies’ Issues Magnified
The Rockies have had one major obstacle to overcome throughout their history: Coors Field. Having to play 81 games a mile above sea level takes its toll over 162 games. Historically, pitchers have struggled pitching when playing in Denver. The way in which the ball breaks and moves at high altitude can make it challenging for Rockies pitchers to have success. While manager Bud Black has helped elevate the pitching staff since his arrival in 2016, the Rockies have yet to master pitching in their home ballpark. However, 2021 appears to be an anomaly as Rockies’ starters have a lower ERA at home than on the road.
When the 2021 season concludes in October, the Rockies will look back on the missed opportunities. A look at the home and road splits tells a story itself. It is apparent to fans that a lack of success on the road doomed the team from the outset. Regardless if the MLB expands playoffs next season, the Rockies will miss them if they do not improve substantially away from 20th and Blake. There is still time for the Rockies to at least not throw in the towel. At this point, pride and prepping for 2022 should be the focal point in the clubhouse.
Looking Forward To 2022
The Colorado Rockies may or may not lose 100 games this season as was predicted. However, it is clear personnel changes need to be made before next spring. With the loss of Arenado, this season felt over before it even started. Former general manager Jeff Bridich helped to clean up the mess he created by stepping down at the end of April. More work needs to be done if the Rockies want to field a winning team again. Only time will tell what those moves will be.
Baseball is a sport that lives and dies with pitching. For the Rockies to enjoy success going forward, they have to figure out a way to improve on the mound. When healthy, starters Kyle Freeland and German Marquez are the key to a successful rotation. Furthermore, the bullpen will be instrumental in helping the Rox return to the postseason. In recent seasons, the bullpen has been the source of frustration for fans. Past arms such as Bryan Shaw and Wade Davis brought little to no stability to what was coined the “The Super Bullpen.” Not only did that prove to be an unfruitful experiment of the Bridich-era, but instead viewed as a colossal failure by baseball experts.
The time for the Colorado Rockies to move on is now. Shortstop Trevor Story is front and center when it comes to trade candidates. There would undoubtedly be backlash if interim general manager Greg Feasel decided to pull the trigger on a trade involving Story. However, the team has spent yet another season near the bottom of the NL West with no inclination of improving. At this point, it would best for a complete teardown of the roster and a fresh look in 2022. The Rockies must figure something out soon if they want to keep fans returning for baseball as opposed to parties on the Rooftop and foot long brats!
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