Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

Rockies Recap: Reviewing the first half and Previewing the second

Patrick Lyons Avatar
July 22, 2022

The Colorado Rockies ended the first half of the season fourth-place in the National League West, 6.5 games out of the final spot for the NL Wild Card thanks to a 43-50 record.

Though no one from ownership made any proclamations about how many games the club would win in 2022, the return on the investment made in free agents and extensions this offseason has to feel a bit unfulfilled.

Prognosticators generally viewed this club as topping at 70 wins. Considering the roster was incredibly similar to the one in 2021 that outperformed expectations, it’s no surprise the Rockies are on a 75-win pace: better than anticipated, but still far short of the postseason.

Here’s where things stand with Colorado after the first 93 games and where they could go in the remaining 69:

Has anyone seen Kris Bryant?

The absence of their most valued and highest-paid player on the roster for 50 games sunk the team in the standings. 

When Kris Bryant first missed action with back soreness, his club was 10-6 at the time. While he was away over the course of two stints on the injured list, they went 20-30 and have yet to dig themselves out of that deficit.

Jul 14, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies designated hitter Kris Bryant (23) on deck in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Since his return on June 27, they went back to their winning ways of April, going 12-7 even as their left fielder missed three games on the paternity list.

Bryant has a slash line of .333/.391/.587 in 69 plate appearances over 16 games with four doubles, four home runs, eight RBI, six walks and five strikeouts. Not only had he reached base safely in the first 15 of these contests, but he had an 18-game on-base streak, third-longest in the Majors at the time.

Starting Pitching: Alright

No one is doubting that the rotation as the biggest strength for the club. 

With four starting pitchers having returned from a 2021 staff that held a 4.22 ERA over the course of 161 games last year, fourth-best in franchise history, and free agent Chad Kuhl entering to round out the starters, the staff was expected to take another step forward. 

Kuhl has been effective in replacing Jon Gray. His 1.6 wins-above-replacement by Baseball Reference in 17 starts is most amongst rotation mates and more than Gray accumulated all of last year (1.4). His ERA+ of 114 is the only one above the century mark amongst the original fivesome.

The rotation entered the final game of the first-half with a 5.03 ERA, and while that may be the third-worst in the NL, its 11th-best in Rockies’ history among their 29 non-pandemic-shortened seasons.

Germán Márquez, the team’s lone All-Star in 2021, and Austin Gomber both struggled with consistency and spent much of the first three months with a six as the first number in their earned run average. 

Jun 18, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez (48) delivers against the San Diego Padres in the first inning at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Freeland has seen his statistics balloon across the board during three starts in July after giving up 15 earned runs in 16 innings. Before that, he looked every bit the Opening Day starter Colorado locked up for six more years.

Two IL stints for Antonio Senzatela have fractured his 2022. Though he struck out just 11 batters over his first seven outings – Rockies actually won four of those games – he recorded 23 strikeouts in his next six starts in his first return from the injured list.

Four of the first five outings for Ryan Feltner gave Colorado an opportunity to win, but the 25-year-old rookie still needs some seasoning before earning a spot in the 2023 rotation. 

That brings us to José Ureña. Designated for assignment by the Brewers after four appearances, he made five starts with the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes before making his purple debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In three starts before the All-Star break, Ureña has nothing but quality starts on his ledger. A pristine 1.45 ERA in 18.2 innings pitched gives Colorado six starting pitchers ready to roll into the second-half. 

Relief Corps: Four Horses in the Arm Barn

Daniel Bard is back to the dominant ways that has made him one of the better closers in the game through stretches in 2020 and 2021. (Since the start of 2020, his 46 saves are eighth-most in all of MLB.)

It’s fair to not that he’s pitched himself out of some jams, much of which is why he’s deserved the light show for every save appearance at Coors Field as that kind of tight-wire act can be pure entertainment.

Tyler Kinley made a case to make the NL All-Star squad before having his season shut down in mid-June due to a right elbow strain. While he won’t be back to contribute until some time next season, his presence in the clubhouse has been helpful for the roster’s young relievers.

First-year setup man Alex Colomé has seen his strikeout numbers take a dip from what he’s produced during his previous decade in the Majors, but the overall results have been positive.

Apr 23, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Alex Colome (37) walks off the field after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After missing time at the start of the year with a stint on the COVID-IL, Lucas Gilbreath is back showing the poise and polish that made him the Rockies’ top rookie in 2021 and one of the most effect left-handed relievers in the sport.

As for the rest of the bullpen, it’s been mostly varying levels of success that has produced a 6.17 ERA. (That includes a scoreless inning by OF Randal Grichuk during a 14-1 blowout during the first game of a doubleheader against the Miami Marlins.)

Offense: Pretty Good, But Not Great

Scoring an average of 4.59 runs per game, Colorado has been better at the plate than 20 teams in MLB. On one hand, they’re the best offense at home; on the other, they’re the worst in the NL on the road.

The four best and most consistent hitters this year for the club have been four of their oldest: Charlie Blackmon (36), C.J. Cron (32), Kris Bryant (30) and Connor Joe (29).

Throw in José Iglesias (32) and it’s been a renaissance season for the veterans at the plate.

Blackmon has seen his power return after two seasons of alarming backslides. He’ll have to pick up the pace quite a bit during the final half to reach 30 home runs for the third time in his career. It’s not a total impossibility as he has 14 long balls going into the break. 

Cron has been Colorado’s top run producer for over a year and his selection to the All-Star Game underlines his value to the organization. He’s in the top 10 of several categories in the Senior Circuit this season and is the first Rockie since Todd Helton in 2001 to end the first-half with 20 or more homers, 65 or more RBI and a batting average of .295 or better.

Joe has done his job leading off most days and leads qualified Rockies with a .370 on-base percentage entering Sunday. 

Jun 26, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Colorado Rockies left fielder Connor Joe (9) scores against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Iglesias has been intriguing, mostly because of his reverse splits at home and on the road. He’s been toying with becoming the first shortstop in franchise history to hit over .300 since Troy Tulowitzki more than half a decade ago. 

Excluding the month of April when he hit .078 (4-for-51), Brendan Rodgers has arguably been their best position player. His 46 RBI since May 1 are most among all second baseman except – yes, you guessed it – Trevor Story of the Boston Red Sox.

Yonathan Daza and Randal Grichuk have had their moments in the outfield while the catching tandem of Elias Díaz and Brian Serven has been much closer to league-average offensively since the rookie was promoted on May 17.

Defending Your Life

Ryan McMahon leads MLB in one of the worst statistics possible: errors.

Despite 13 miscues at the hot corner, several defensive metrics have shined positively on the 2021 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Finalist.

Same is true of the entire Rockies’ defense, who at one point led all teams with the most errors. Since making three such miscues in Miami on June 21, they’ve been the best at fielding their respective positions.

A span of 12 games without an error from June 25-July 7 was tied for the second-longest in franchise history while a 15-game errorless streak at home around this time actually set the mark.

Hypothesizing Like Mad

Let’s forget the 50 games that Kris Bryant went on the IL and the retroactive games he missed. Even scrap the two games between spells on the injured list.

Now, take the 10-6 start to the season with a healthy Bryant and add Colorado’s 12-8 stretch since his return.

Is it possible that the true capability of this Rockies’ roster is this 22-14 record?

If we extrapolated this .611 winning percentage over the final 69 games of the season, that would result in a 42-27 record in the second-half and a final win total of 85.

Back in 1996, Colorado won 83 games and finished 6th in the NL. Could 85 get the job done in 2022?

Unfortunately, we have to take a step back.

Colorado has played a bulk of their games at home through the first half, not to mention a slew of series against the worst teams in the NL. (And series against two of the three worst teams in the American League.)

The Rockies are scheduled to face the toughest strength of schedule amongst all 30 teams in the second-half, including a close to their season with a whopping nine games on the road and six consecutive contests at Dodger Stadium. 

With less than two weeks before the trade deadline, we should get an answer as to whether the front office feels the club is closer to the 85-win version with a healthy Bryant or one that simply had their season break the wrong way.

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?