“Come gather around people wherever you roam. And admit that the waters around you have grown. And accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone. And if your breath to you is worth saving.” – Bob Dylan
Not only is your breath worth saving, but the 7th 8th and 9th innings are worth saving now for the Colorado Rockies. For the past five seasons the Rockies have averaged 33 saves per season and on the honeymoon of this year, they already have seven. The Rockies, infamous for their hot starts and dwindling promise, have been able to pull out wins this season thanks to their closers, not their bats. We still have yet to see an electric offensive game with multiple runs in an inning, but we haven’t needed it. The combination of Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn and Greg Holland have allowed only one run this season as of now. The beauty of this trio is that they haven’t even been given the luxury to let more than that by.
In past seasons the Rockies had come out to an electric start but it would be an empty promise by the end of the year. This was do to a variety of reasons but blame can primarily be on behalf of a disappointing pitching performance in the latter half of games. They had been relying on home runs as well as taking advantage of tired pitchers in the 4th and 5th innings. This season they are winning close games because of the dynamite in the bullpen. Holland has shown that he still has the ability to be a clutch closer. His return from the daunting Tommy John surgery that he underwent due to a torn ligament in 2015 has been immaculate. The two-time all star and world series champion still has the gas left in the tank. Credit needs to be given not solely to his own virtues but thanks to his set up men, Ottavino and Dunn, having the arms to let Holland be able to close out the game. With a lead going into the 7th inning, the bullpen has allowed Holland to be step up to the mound with Rockies on top. The elixir that can quench Ottavino, Dunn and Holland’s thirst is to have some breathing room from their hitters.
If the Rockies can start getting the bats going they can do some damage in the National League West. Starting out with an advantage over the juggernauts of years past helps immensely. Winning the series against the Dodgers and beginning the Giants series with a win helps the Rockies in the standings, along with their rhythm. With a majority of games being division match-ups in the month of April, the Rockies have the ability to float to the top of the NL West. With every win they can take a step up and push the competition back with May looking like the month to where the Rockies could distinguish themselves as the front-runners of the division.
There have been murmurings of Ian Desmond potentially returning to the lineup at the end of the April after sustaining a broken left hand in spring training. With a player of his potential driving in runs, they have the possibility of winning series against clubs like St Louis, Philadelphia, and Seattle in the early going of 2017. All of these are in the bottom half of their respected divisions at the moment but if the Rockeis can catch them napping, they could see themselves as a distingushed bunch in the National Leage. The trick to this will be driving in early inning runs and letting the men in the pen do what they have been doing.
One main question in the infancy of the season has been where is Trevor Story? Last night, his swing came back. We finally got the home run king that we were waiting for; and his hit was the difference in the game. If Story can use this epiphany to break his funk, it might be the key to getting the runs going for the Rockies. In the first eleven games of the 2016 season, Story had hit five home runs and was the starchild of the franchise. This season has begun with Trevor being in a slump. Before last night, his average was down to .129 which had stranded runners on base and left the Rockies yearning for more. His two-run bomb last night will hopefully grant Trevor some reprieve and he will be able to return to the hitting prowess that we saw last year. The Rockies are desperately in need of a connection towards the end of their lineup to change these single run leads into blowouts.
Jon Gray has shown that he has the stuff to be the ace of the franchise. The team needs frequent serviceable innings from the rest of the starters and the Rockes will be able to finish out games. Looking forward, the competition is looking presumably easier than what the Rockies have dealt with thus far. The momentum out of the gate has been enough to turn the page on heartbreaking season after heartbreaking season. Hope is one of the stongrest attributes amongst Rockies faithful and it is growing with every pitch. It just might be in the cards this year to have the juice to be alive in July and August so don’t let the track record speak just yet.
Success has come this season from areas unexpected. The bullpen has provided much needed wins. In seasons past, the pen was more of something that you would hope for and not count on. Now the Rockies have pitchers that they can believe in. Game two in this four game series begins tonight. With this opening season off to a great start there is hope that we might see Rocktober once again. The times are a changing and it’s a relief that the pen has been able to save the game.