I wish that I could say that this is the worst losing streak the Rockies have suffered through in all the time I've been doing Bad Altitude, but the truth is that Colorado tends to have one of these runs every year. Even last season, on their way to the World Series, they checked in with a 1-9 road trip in June that had everyone including myself throwing dirt on them. Why does this keep happening? With apologies to James Carville, it's the pitching, stupid. The Rockies don't have a starter capable of winning games all on his own now. They never have. Maybe they never will. It's chilling to consider.
This year, the Rockies are lucky if they even receive competent pitching. Apart from Aaron Cook, their rotation is rotting garbage, and while the bullpen's overall numbers haven't been as awful, there's no one out there you really trust to answer the bell besides Brian Fuentes, soon to be traded, and Taylor Buchholz, who (as I'll say for the 900th time) ought to be starting. Clint Hurdle and Dan O'Dowd are both obsessed with putting labels on pitchers. If a guy is acquired to start, he's going to start, by God, even if he's Jorge De La Rosa (8.44 ERA). They have the same paralysis in the bullpen. Manny Corpas was going to be the closer, Brian Fuentes was going to have the ninth inning, and Luis Vizcaino's domain would be the seventh. Vizcaino got hurt, Corpas spit the bit, and now Hurdle manages the bullpen like a stoned college kid playing MLB 2K8.
This insistence on labels hurts the lineup too -- Willy Taveras was traded for to be a leadoff hitter, so that's where he's going to hit, even if the Rockies have scores of better candidates available. But lineup order doesn't make that much of a difference in whether a team wins or not, compared to making sure that it's the best pitchers who pitch the most innings. Earl Weaver, John McGraw, and Lee Elia combined couldn't make an average staff out of the refuse with which O'Dowd has provided Hurdle. But a sharper manager ought to be able to find some way to keep the Rockies' odious pitching from disqualifying them from winning every game they play. It's been pointed out elsewhere, and it's frankly incredible, how often the Colorado pitchers this season have allowed runs the half-inning after the offense has scored one or more. It happened last night in Los Angeles, right in the first inning. The Rockies got one in the top half, overextended rookie Greg Reynolds gave up two in the bottom half, and most of what happened after that was academic.
I wish after all this criticism that I had a good suggestion to offer. I don't. The Rockies don't have enough pitching to go .500 the rest of the way, or maybe even .400. The offense is going to have to pick it up considerably to keep this team from losing 100 games. I suppose the point that I have to make is that anything would be better than this, at least as far as the staff is concerned, and Hurdle and O'Dowd ought to blow things up radically. This season is down the tubes, and management's main goals should be to avoid losing 100 and evaluating how their young talent will fare in the majors, in that order. I don't think the duo, Hurdle in particular, have the mindset or the temperment to start batting the pitcher 8th or anything else even mildly transgressive. (Although now two teams, MIL and STL, are doing that in the National League, which absolutely constitutes a trend.)
And that's why both O'Dowd and Hurdle need to be fired. They're incremental improvement guys, and the Rockies need a quantum leap.