For Colorado Rockies fans who are still paying attention after such a horrific and grueling season, the payoff they hoped would happen with this team seems to be coming now. While the Rockies did manage to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers today, they did take two of three games from a team that is currently battling for the NL West title. Remember that this is a Dodgers team that just conducted the trade of the year a few days before this series with the Rockies started. Aren't they supposed to be a super-team now with so much high-priced talent?
If anything, this past Rockies-Dodgers series highlights a potential renewed rivalry between the two squads if the Rockies can rebound with this young, promising talent they have next year. It would certainly be a rivarlty between opposites. While the Dodgers seem to have no problems now going out and paying for high-priced talent, the Rockies have been looking for young, perhaps undervalued, young players and trying to develop them. Think of it as the Dodgers being the New York Yankees and the Rockies playing the spoiler role of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The Rockies have clearly been surging at the right time. They're 12-5 in their last 17 games and have won or split four of their last six series here in August. A good deal of that recent resurgence has been due to the bats finally coming alive again for the Rockies. In three games against the Dodgers, the Rockies scored 26 runs. That's the kind of offense that manager Jim Tracy had hoped would protect a struggling pitching staff earlier in the year.
The Rockies have seen many of their young hitters mature throughout this season. We all know Carlos Gonzalez is having an outstanding year, but he's still hitting .308 despite losing heavy hitters such as Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer, and Todd Helton for significant portions of the season. Having those guys batting behind him in the order would have protected him from pitchers simply pitching around him. Apparently it's not working because he's still having one of the best seasons in his young career.
A great deal of that is due to the fact that many of the young guys the Rockies have in the starting lineup are performing at levels that belie their inexperience. Tyler Colvin is still hitting at an impressive .292 after suffering a bit of a slump in early August (perhaps finally adjusting to the routine that comes with getting to start every day). DJ LeMahieu, also part of that trade that brought Colvin to Colorado from the Chicago Cubs, is also having a nice season (batting .293 in 51 games) playing mostly off the bench.
Jordan Pachecho was a little inconsistent starting the season, but has matured nicely into platooning at third base and filling in occasionally at first base. He's hitting .308 in 99 games, and it's this hitting ability that has forced the Rockies to try and find him positional starts as much as possible.
Another young player who has had an impressive beginning with the Rockies is rookie shortstop Josh Rutledge. In just 39 games (roughly 1/4 of the season), he has hit .348 with 7 home runs, 26 RBIs, and 21 runs. If he's truly that good of a hitter, when the Rockies move him over to second base when Tulowitzki is healthy, the team may have one of the best middle infield combinations in the major leagues.
Indeed, the Rockies are playing their best baseball at the time of the year that they should. Unfortunately they played so terribly the first 100 games that they have no chance at a playoff spot, but they can sure try and wreck the season for someone else in September.
Julie is a featured sports contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. A lifelong baseball fan, she started following the Colorado Rockies upon moving to Denver in 2001.
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