What is one to make of these Colorado Rockies?

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After 70 games, I’m still not sure what to make of these Rockies. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t find one person who thought this team would contend. I was with the majority. I think everyone in Colorado believed they would have a similar year to 2012. But so far, that’s not the case.

The Rockies are 37-33 and only a half game back of first in the division. The Diamondbacks are currently in first place with a 37-32 record. This time last year, Colorado was already 15 games below .500 and had no shot whatsoever at going to the playoffs.

I keep on trying to push myself to start believing in these Rockies. I want to say they will be a playoff contender, but I’m not going to do that yet. Don’t get me wrong, this team is fun to watch. They have some serious talent on offense and some potential on the pitching staff. I have to give respect where respect is due. Colorado is winning and they are getting it done at home. They have a 23-17 record at Coors field. Last season they only won 35 games total in Denver. That’s how bad it was then.

Overall the Rockies are 2nd in home runs (91), 2nd in RBIs (337). 2nd in runs (352), 2nd in batting average (.276), and 1st in slugging percentage (.453). Troy Tulowitzki was playing at an MVP level before getting hurt. Carlos Gonzalez has been crushing the ball. He’s already got 20 home runs this season. Rookie Nolan Arenado has been an important addition not just with the bat, but he’s showing that he’s got a golden glove as well. How many exciting plays have we seen him make at third base? It’s also nice to see Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood pitch well recently. It’s also looking like veteran pitcher Roy Oswalt will get a shot soon after performing very well in the minors.

Now with all the nice things I said there, here’s my issue with getting too optimistic about the Rockies. I’m just not confident in this pitching staff. Consistency has to be key. If Chacin wants to be this team’s ace, he has to do what he did Sunday against the Phillies and he has to do it on the majority of his starts. He’s got to go deeper in innings. Juan Nicasio starts off games well, but once they get to the 5th inning, that’s where he begins to struggle. The same goes for Jeff Francis. Francis needs to start stepping up or he will be gone just like Jon Garland. If you are going to be a playoff contender, it all starts with pitching and these starters have their moments, but that’s not good enough in the bigs.

The pitching staff also has to stop blowing big leads. They have done it a few times this year and that just kills confidence all the way around when you can’t hold onto a 5-run lead. Plus, Wilton Lopez up to this point has been a disappointment. The reliever was supposed to be the key pickup. Instead, he has three losses with a 4.25 ERA. Last season with the Astros he had an impressive 2.17 ERA. The Rockies are also just 15 and 21 in games when he appears.

Troy Tulowitzki getting injured again also makes me nervous. He’s been unreal this year, but the Rockies put the shortstop on the disabled list and he’s expected to miss four to six weeks. Before getting hurt Tulo was hitting .352 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. When he’s in the lineup, Gonzalez becomes even more dangerous. But it showed last year when Troy was out of the lineup, CarGo struggled. Four to six weeks isn’t long, but it’s long enough for a team to go downhill quickly.

Colorado’s biggest test of the season starts now. A 10-day, nine-game road trip against the Blue Jays, Nationals and Red Sox. All three are quality opponents. I’m excited to see how the Rockies do on the road. If they can get five wins, I’ll start being more optimistic. Heck, I’ll take four wins. That would mean they are still right at the top of the NL West. If they can do that, then confidence continues to grow with this team as we reach the halfway point. Then I can tell you that I think this team will have a shot at the playoffs.

One more thing. The MVP of the Rockies so far is Walt Weiss. He has done a great job managing this team. I love how aggressive he is and the players clearly love him. It’s time for the Rockies to give him an extension. Weiss only signed a one-year deal. I think he’s proven that he deserves to stick around a little longer.

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