The second half of the MLB season opens up today and the Colorado Rockies will start off with a road trip to Pittsburgh. The Pirates series will be the first of 11 second half series against opponents that have winning records at the break. The 10 series against teams currently with losing records are mostly against division opponents — the Padres and Diamondbacks — which will always be tough compared to teams you don't see too often. It will be tough going for sure, but are the Rockies capable of a second half turnaround? The playoffs are a pipe dream, but can the Rockies get back to competitive form and claw their way back to .500 at the end of the season?
The role injuries play will be a double-edged sword for the Rockies the rest of the way. Guys like Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson came back from their injuries just before the All-Star break, and they should be followed by Michael Cuddyer and Eddie Butler. Getting these players back, getting closer to full strength will be a terrific boost to both the club's psyche and their play on the field. The flip side to that is several players won't be coming back. Jhoulys Chacin and Jordan Lyles will most likely miss the rest of the season and Tyler Chatwood will undergo Tommy John surgery next week and will definitely miss the season and probably next year, too. And seeing how many guys fell to the injury bug in the first place, don't count on the team staying completely healthy the rest of the way through.
When the team was near full strength early in the season, they were at one point eight games over .500. Those days are long gone now, as even with a full compliment of guys on the bench, they will most assuredly succumb to the almighty draw of momentum. Not to say the Big Mo is unbreakable, but losing isn't the exception at Coors Field, it seems to be the norm.
But just for argument's sake, let's say the Rockies do get healthy, don't make any trades and buck the losing trend and get a fresh start at the second half. Could that team compete at a high level and get back to .500?
Well, like always for the Rox, it all comes down to pitching. The offense is still averaging the most runs per game in the National League and will continue to produce at a high level the rest of the way. Pitching will always determine the record of the Rockies, and this year it's been downright dreadful. The Rockies will need to step up their game out of the bullpen and especially out of the starting rotation.
The problem with fixing the rotation takes us all the way back to the injuries. With Anderson's return, only two reasonably successful pitchers at the Major League level are taking the bump for the Rockies. Eddie Butler, if management indeed brings him back to the Bigs, will get some more starts under his belt and get better with each one. Jon Gray should get called up in September at the latest and bring excitement and some serious heat to the mound at Coors Field. Along with ace of the staff Jorge De La Rosa, the rotation would be filled with guys with terrific stuff who could all actually be really good in the second half of the season.
To finally answer the question, though, the Rockies will not get back to .500 this season. To do so, they would have to play over .600 ball and post a record of 41-16 in their remaining games. That just won't happen with the pitching staff in the shape it's in. But, the Rockies will still be a fun team to watch and depending on trades and a call-up of a certain Mr. Gray, could play spoiler in the National League.
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Tags: Baseball, Colorado, Colorado Rockies, MLB