Remember the game ‘Whack-O-Mole’? It was simple to play. You would be given a mallet or club and would have to beat down all of the robotic moles as they pop up over and over again. But you never could get them all at once could you? Once you whack one mole, another that you already beat down comes right back up and the cycle continues. This is the Rockies’ in 2011. Think of the moles as aspects of the team. You have starting pitching, defense, bullpen pitching and offensive production. For the Rockies, they can never seem to keep consistent production in these categories at the same time. This past week is a great example for this study. Our starters can pitch well, but they get no run production from the offense. They get the timely hits, but then the bullpen can’t hold the lead or keep it within reach, and all the combinations of the three. And yes, there are statistics to prove it.
Let’s look at the Rockies’ production over the last week. Colorado is coming off a road series win against the San Diego Padres and have just split a four game series at home against the Dodgers. Offensively, they have scored 38 runs over the last seven days, averaging around 5.4 runs per game, a major improvement to the 10 runs they scratched out during the previous week. The batting average over the last week is .318, thanks to the warming bats of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Slugging and on base percentages were all way above the season average at .455 and .375 respectively. All of this offense has only produced a 4-3 week, however. This is because much of the Rockies offense occurred during games where they did not pitch well, and vice versa. 30 of this week’s 38 runs were scored during the 2-2 split against the Dodgers, with only eight runs scored in the three games in San Diego. Rockies’ pitching against the Padres was opposite to their hitting, posting a 1.73 ERA collectively while during the four game slug-fest against the Dodgers, they had an awful 9.00 ERA. Now, Petco Park is no Coors Field as far as offensive numbers go, but it is not as dramatic as a 30 to 8 runs type of difference. Weeks like this past one have painted the Rockies’ season so far; a constant game of whack-o-mole where the progressing of one aspect leads to the digression of another.
Even through this, the Rockies may be on the verge of breaking out of their funk. Here’s why: The main provider of frustration for the Rockies have been the lack of offensive production. The starting pitching and bullpen have been having solid numbers all season long, even after the injury of starter Jorge De La Rosa. The recent resurgence of offense over this past week may be the start of something big. Troy Tulowitzki is starting to put together a huge June, batting .375 and already driving in 12 RBI’s. Carlos Gonzalez is also heating up with a .350 batting average this month, raising his season average up to .279. Where Tulo and Cargo go, that is where the offense follows. If the pitching staff can compliment the break out months of these two leaders, look for the Rockies to get hot this summer.