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More of the same for the Colorado Rockies.
It has been discussed at length, debated and argued. The Rockies and their struggles with pitching are something that no one can quite figure out.
On Wednesday night at a miserable Coors Field, where the temperatures were below 40 degrees with a steady mist, the Rockies once again saw their pitching struggles come back to bite them. This time is was Eddie Butler. The young starting pitcher, who has a ton of promise, struggled from the get-go.
While Butler struggled on the mound, the Rockies continued an alarming trend at the plate. They failed to score a reasonable amount of runs, which resulted in a 4-2 loss to one of the worst teams in all of Major League Baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. On Wednesday, the Rockies didn’t have the excuse that they were facing Cole Hamels, one of the best left-handers in baseball who will be coveted by most contenders as the trade deadline approaches. On Wednesday it was Severino Gonzalez, making his third-ever Major League appearance, who got the best of the Rockies.
The offense couldn’t figure out Gonzalez, but it didn’t help that they were in a hole 2-0 before they ever got a chance to swing the bats. Butler, who seemed to be his own worst enemy, started things off on the wrong foot. With Ryan Howard on first base and Chase Utley on 2nd, Butler threw errantly on a ball hit by Maikel Franco. The error allowed Utley to score, pushed Howard to third base and Franco to second. In the third, Butler gave up a long home run to Howard and allowed an additional run to push the Phillies lead to 4-0.
After the inning Butler was yanked and the Rockies were in a hole that they would emerge from.
In total, Butler went three innings, giving up four runs, two earned, on six hits. He struck out two and walked two. It wasn’t the outing that the Rockies needed from their young starter.
Part of the problem for the Rockies is that Butler isn’t the only guy learning to pitch at the big league level. Jordan Lyles continues his growth, Chad Bettis is finding his way and Tyler Matzek, sent down a little more than a week ago, was also struggling to see where he would belong in a Major League rotation.
It is part of the growth process for the Rockies. The cupboards were left bare by the previous regime for Major League-ready talent on the mound. Instead of having guys who were at least serviceable at the big league level sitting in Triple-A, the club has been forced to rely on their young arms to get them through an entire season while learning at the big league level.
Most teams will have one or two guys in their rotation like that, but not three, and certainly not four of those guys eating a significant number of starts. It is simply an issue that the Rockies will have to deal with until guys like Kyle Friedland, the team’s No.1 pick a year ago, and Jon Gray are ready to perform at the big league level.
As far as the bats go, the inconsistencies are maddening. This is a team that clearly struggles to adjust their swings. They strike out more than anyone, in fact, had they struck out 10 times or more on Wednesday it would have been the first time in over 100 years that a club recorded more than 10 strikeouts in five consecutive games.
It is going to be a rough road for the Rockies. Their fans are simply going to have to find something to like in the journey. Despite the losses, this team will give fans a good idea of what the talent level will give them in future years. It will become part of the process of how this team performs in 2017.
These are the years in which the Rockies have to get sick of losing and find a way to win baseball games and determine that they are good enough to win. This is a season about finding out who they are and creating an identity.