The Colorado Rockies have surprised many people with their outstanding performance. This is the first time since 2010 that the Rockies have a winning record this late in the season.
Since the Rockies joined the National League in 1993, their pitching has determined their success. The last time Colorado appeared in the postseason was 2009 as the National League Wild Card. Since then, pitching problems have plagued them. This year, with new manager Bud Black and a young starting rotation, the team has played better than anyone expected. As late as June, they led the NL West. Although they have come down to earth, the Rockies are heading toward the NL Wild Card game.
This past Sunday the Rockies traded a player to be named to the Texas Rangers for veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Although Lucroy isn't having his best season, he will be an upgrade from the young catchers that the Rockies have used this season. With a young starting rotation, the Rockies need a veteran backstop to help guide them.
Lucroy has spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. Although he was an offensive force in Milwaukee, he struggled offensively while in Texas even though the ball usually flies out of Globe Life Park, with its hot humid air.
Defensively, Lucroy has developed a reputation for his ability to work well with a young pitching staff. This is what the Rockies desire. His strong throwing arm enables him to control the running game. This season Lucroy has thrown out 38 percent of potential base stealers. He knows how to block balls in the dirt, and this will help to prevent the opposition from taking the extra base, which is more crucial in Colorado, where offense usually rules the game.
Last year the Rockies had the worst bullpen in the league, causing many losses. This season they have the fourth-worst bullpen in the NL, but it is a major improvement. Greg Holland, just returning from Tommy John surgery, is primarily responsible for this improvement. It is a rarity for the Rockies to blow a lead in the ninth inning.
Before joining the Rockies this January, Holland had been a mainstay of the Kansas City Royals' bullpen, particularly when they went to the World Series in 2014 and 2015. He hasn't been intimidated by pitching at Coors Field. He knows how to keep the ball low in the strike zone.
Many baseball pundits expected the Rockies to pursue a veteran starter at the non-waiver Trade Deadline earlier this week, but they didn't. Instead, they obtained right-handed reliever Pat Neshek from the Philadelphia Phillies to help shore up the bullpen.
With the Lucroy acquisition, the Rockies helped themselves, but to solidify their postseason berth, I'd like to see the Rockies management acquire a veteran starter and perhaps another reliever.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.