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Kyle Kendrick continues to struggle as Colorado Rockies swept in San Diego

David Martin Avatar
May 4, 2015


The Colorado Rockies are hanging on by a thread.

If it wasn’t the starting pitching failing to go deep into a game, it was poor defense. If it wasn’t poor defense, it was a suddenly inept offense. That has been the story of the road trip for the Rockies.

On Sunday, the glaring issue came back to the big free agent signing of the offseason for the Rockies. Kyle Kendrick, the Rockies opening day starter, looks like he belongs anywhere besides a Major League mound. However, despite his poor start, the Rockies had a chance to win the game.

With the bases loaded in the 6th inning and just one out, the Rockies sent Troy Tulowitzki to the plate as a pinch hitter. The perennial All-Star started the day on the bench for prescribed rest in order to prevent an injury later in the season. With the Rockies down 6-5, it was a chance to sway the momentum and allow the Rockies to break out of their losing streak in a big way. Tulo’s at-bat followed Daniel Descalso, who walked on five pitches.

Instead of taking a pitch or two and forcing Padres reliever Dale Thayer to throw strikes, Tulo swung at the first pitch, popping out to shortstop Alexi Amarista. Immediately following Tulo’s at-bat, Charlie Blackmon hit a grounder to third base to end the threat.

It was the type of bad baseball that Rockies fans have become accustom to. Tulowitzki, one of the best players in all of baseball, still tends to get ahead of himself. It seems that he tries to put the team on his back and deliver in a big way. Thayer had just issued a walk. To allow him to get an easy out on the first pitch of the at-bat to Tulo was a play that has the ability to swing the momentum back to the pitcher.

While it is easy to blame Tulowitzki for his failure in the big moment of the game, it wouldn’t be entirely fair. The reality is, Kyle Kendrick has been a disaster for every game besides his Opening Day start, which now seems like an anomaly. The right-hander isn’t getting the movement on his sinker that he needs. He doesn’t throw hard enough to blow the ball passed anyone, so he must have the movement to induce ground balls. That movement isn’t there, and after his pathetic start on Sunday, he has now given up 10 home runs on the season, the most of any Major League pitcher in 2015.

An offense, no matter how talented it is, stands little chance when they have a starter that is struggling the way Kendrick is on the mound. The mental side of baseball starts to creep in and makes an offense press, feeling like they are going to have to put up eight or nine runs to have a chance to win. With a lockdown pitcher on the mound, an offense can relax, knowing that they are going to get their chances to score a few runs and win the game.

There was plenty of failure for the Rockies on Sunday, but it is important for fans to remember that this is a year of growth for this franchise. With three young pitchers in the starting rotation and another one getting ready in Triple-A, the 2015 season is about ridding the franchise of it’s losing culture that has been present since the final two weeks of 2010.

With that in mind, the positives from Sunday’s game came in the form of continued growth from star-in-the-making Nolan Arenado. The Rockies third baseman knocked two home runs, both in crucial moments in the game, and both on decent pitches. In addition to phenomenal defense that is indisputable, Arenado’s bat is turning into what scouts thought he might be when he was drafted in 2010.

Arenado blasted two home runs, but he wasn’t the only one. Charlie Blackmon also drilled two balls out of the park, including one to lead off the game against James Shields. The Padres starter was one of the biggest offseason free agents available. For the Rockies to knock him around a little bit is a great sign for this team.

Things don’t look great for the Rockies. There are clear issues and holes that need to be addressed. Kyle Kendrick is a black hole in the starting rotation and the rest of the rotation isn’t going deep enough into games. Despite the struggles, the Rockies remain just two games below .500. This team isn’t supposed to contend for the playoffs.

The goal of the 2015 Rockies should be to rid themselves of a losing culture that was a staple of the franchise for the past three seasons. Instead of excuses, the Rockies need to learn how to improve the mindset and believe in themselves. They need to trust their talent and go out with the idea that they should win every game. That change in culture doesn’t happen overnight.

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