|21-23 (3rd place, NL Central)||23-19 (2nd place, NL West)|
|Game 1||(2-1, 6.60)||vs.||Jason Hammel (3-3, 3.71)|
|vs. Rockies||(0-0, ---)||vs.||(0-0, ---)|
|Game 2||Shaun Marcum (5-1, 2.54)||vs.||Clayton Mortensen (1-0, 2.01)|
|vs. Rockies||(0-0, ---)||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)|
|Game 3||Randy Wolf (3-4, 4.03)||vs.||Ubaldo Jimenez (0-3, 6.14)|
|vs. Rockies||(0-0, ---)||vs. Brewers||(0-0, ---)|
NH: As of Monday, the Rockies had lost seven of their last eight series. Can they break out of this slump? What are the keys for the team to get back on track?
AM: Well, obviously the Rockies were on a slide when I first GOT these questions, but since then, we’ve seen a 2-game sweep of the Giants and a split against the Philadelphia Phillies. The slump has basically been caused by a month long dry spell from the bats. Excellent pitching performances wasted by a struggling offense, and tight games were eventually getting let up thanks to a combination of questionable managing and the bullpen finally giving an inch. Frankly, to put the team back on track, the bats all need to show up, and stay up. There’s just no room to waste good pitching with a lineup as good on paper as Colorado’s is.
NH: Despite the recent slump, the Rockies are just a half game back of first place. What's gone right? What are the bright spots?
AM: What’s gone right has been Todd Helton. After a rough 2010 with more trick-back problems, Helton has returned to 2009 form, hitting for average, hitting for a surprising amount of power, and basically being the best hitter in the lineup. Well, not just basically, he IS the best hitter in the lineup right now. Jorge De La Rosa has stepped up in the absence of Ubaldo Jimenez, as this Phil Jimenez guy the Rockies have been throwing out there has been really bad so far. The depth has been tested early, in the form of "wait, who’s the #5 starter?" and Clayton Mortensen has taken the job and done a fine job of it since his callup. The bullpen has been outstanding, and has a shot at being the best bullpen since the 1995 Wild Card Champ Rockies.
NH: Ty Wigginton was called up to take over 3B for Ian Stewart, who was sent down. However, Wigginiton has also struggled offensively. Will the team stick with him or are there other options for the Rockies at 3B?
AM: Well, I should clarify this first. Ty Wigginton wasn’t called up, he was on the MLB roster from Opening Day. Wigginton was brought in to be the 1B/3B/LF/RF/godforbid2B backup, getting a near-starters’ worth of playing time as the super-sub. Ian Stewart was slated to be the starting 3B, but after missing the first half of Spring Training thanks to a knee injury, he never really got in a swing and pretty much lost the job to Wigginton. Stewart was sent down for 11 days to try and get a handle on his swing, but when Ty Wigginton hit the DL with an oblique injury, Stewart was recalled. It wasn’t ideal, but Stewie getting full time ABs might bust him out of his slump and...nah, just kidding. Stewart was bad out loud all season, and when Wigginton came back, it looked like he’d be the starter from there on. He hasn’t done much of anything off of the DL, but the good news is that Jose Lopez is slowly starting to heat up, and he’s the better glove at 3B anyhow. We might see someone of the likes of Eric Young Jr or Chris Nelson up as the season progresses, but I get the feeling that 3B is up for grabs for whichever bat wants to claim it.
NH: Troy Tulowitzki has struggled at the plate over the past week or so, with his season average dropping about .70 points. Is there any reason to think this is more than a slump he'll break out of?
AM: Fun Fact: Troy Tulowitzki swings for the %#$&@# fences every time he comes up. Granted, he’s hit 11 homers, but if it’s not a homer, it’s a popup. There’s no doubt that he got the taste of the long ball in September and doesn’t want to look back, but if Colorado wants to win this thing, Troy Tulowitzki needs to be able to use both fields, hit for average, hit the gaps, and be a more rounded player than he’s showing right now. Don’t get me wrong, a .328 OBP out of your best-paid player is TOTALLY ideal and everything, but we think there’s a chance he could pick it back up. A .211 BABIP isn’t entirely feasible for him to keep up, either, but if he’s just going to swing out of his socks every time up, it’s not gonna improve anytime soon.
NH: The Rockies have struggled to have a solid five starters for the whole season. How has that instability affected the season so far?
AM: Surprisingly little. The Rockies won both of Greg Reynolds’ starts, one of Clayton Mortensen’s 2 starts, Alan Johnson’s start, and 3 of 5 of Esmil Rogers’ starts. Going 7-10 when your #5/#6/#7/#12 starters on the mound is pretty impressive. Aaron Cook is hopefully back within a few weeks, so as long as Clayton Mortensen can keep it up until then, the rotation depth will have done its job and more.
That said, Ubaldo Jimenez needs to figure out his release or fix his mechanics or hire a witch doctor or SOMETHING, because he’s been arguably worst starter in the rotation, given expectations and results. His last start against San Francisco looked, mechanically speaking, better than most of his other starts in the season, but we really need him to find his fastball again, or there’s gonna be problems down the line.