August 10, 2022

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3 takeaways as Rockies near Trade Deadline

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DENVER — The last joyous moment of the Rockies’ 7-3 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon — Kris Bryant sliding into the plate on Randal Grichuk’s two-run, third-inning single — was followed by the moment that has encapsulated the team’s post-All-Star break fortunes.

Bryant rose gingerly and walked unsteadily to the dugout. The left foot plantar fasciitis that has bothered him since the first series out of the break in Milwaukee flared again.

In the fifth, Bryant could barely chase down Trea Turner’s line drive to left field, and what was normally a routine catch required him to skid across the outfield grass. By the sixth, he was out of the game.

Before losing the final game going into the break, the Rockies had won 12 of 19 and were garnering faint aspirations of playoff relevancy. But since the break, they are 3-7, having dropped three of four to the Dodgers, who wear blue but are evergreen as the team to beat in the National League West.

Colorado begins a five-game, four-day series at San Diego on Monday, with the Trade Deadline striking on Tuesday at 4 p.m. MT, probably during the first game of a doubleheader. With the Rockies having signed closer Daniel Bard for two years at $19 million, rather than dealing him, the likelihood that the team will make more than minor changes is slim.

So let’s assess how this hobbling team stands:

1) Bryant’s pain really hurts
Bryant missed 52 games in the first half with a back injury. The upturn before the break more than coincided with his return. Before going 0-for-2 with a walk on Sunday, Bryant was slashing .337/.400/.579 since his return. The Rockies’ post-break downturn, which includes four one-run losses, can’t be laid on him.

But it’s an injury that can only be managed, since being on his feet doesn’t allow time for healing. While he is hitting with consistency, the power — a key reason he was signed for seven years and $182 million — will be hard to come by. One reason the Rockies went 2-4 on their first post-break homestand is the lack of power from other sources. Brian Serven’s homer off Tony Gonsolin in the bottom of the third was just their third in the six games.

“He aggravated his foot — we got him out of there,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He was sore. It’s going to be bothersome moving forward until this resolves itself.”

2) Who’s hot, who’s not
All-Star first baseman C.J. Cron didn’t play Sunday after going 1-for-20 with five strikeouts in the homestand, and 0-for-11 with four strikeouts against the Dodgers. The struggle raises a question: Is a bruised left wrist, from being hit on a pitch by the D-backs’ Zac Gallen on July 8, affecting him?

Charlie Blackmon, who found his swing before the break, cooled to 4-for-20 on the homestand. Connor Joe has been dropped from leadoff — he hit seventh on Sunday — in an attempt to reignite his bat. He has begun the second half 2-for-21. Ryan McMahon had a key home run in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the White Sox, but a 2-for-15 homestand.

José Iglesias, who has hit better on the road than at home, goes back out after going 7-for-17 on the homestand. Grichuk, who doubled and singled Sunday, had an 8-for-19 homestand, and hopes to use the momentum to try to improve his .191 road batting average.

3) Three starters are competitive, but that’s not enough
Germán Márquez
deserved better than his final line — five runs (four earned) in six innings with four strikeouts. He had a 3-2 lead with one out in the fourth when Rodgers, a noticeably improved defender at second base, fumbled Gavin Lux’s potential double-play grounder and managed just one out. Cody Bellinger doubled in one run, and another scored on Grichuk’s misplay in right field.

“I know Rodgers, he doesn’t want to miss,” Márquez said. “But with this team, we can’t miss.”

The inning also included two walks, one to Max Muncy after the missed double-play chance.

“Germán walked two guys, so it’s a collection of a lot of different things, so you can’t pin it all on one thing,” said Black, who said he was disappointed with the unclean defense on Sunday and throughout the homestand. “Overall, he threw the ball fine.”

A disturbing pattern has emerged since the break: Although the game spun out of control after Márquez left, generally the Rockies have been competitive when Márquez, Antonio Senzatela (Monday’s starter) and Kyle Freeland (Saturday’s winning pitcher) start. But the other two starters, José Ureña and Chad Kuhl, have been torched for 20 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings in their four combined second-half starts.

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