Early takes on Rockies’ bullpen, Clayton Kershaw, Nolan Arenado’s hot start
Observations, impressions, opinions and overreactions from the first week of the major league season:
* The Rockies’ 5-2 start (through Friday) is encouraging and some of the early numbers are eye-popping, but none more so than this: Colorado’s bullpen led the majors with a 0.86 ERA (three earned runs over 31 1/3 innings), and its five saves were tied for first.
That’s unsustainable, of course, especially given the Coors Field factor. Multiply that 0.86 ERA by five and you get a 4.30, a number that would still be good by the Rockies’ standards.
I was skeptical about the bullpen, and remain so, but lefty Ty Blach, as well as right-handers Tyler Kinley and Justin Lawrence, are intriguing pieces to the puzzle.
Closer Daniel Bard certainly has the power arm to be effective, but his tendency to miss spots with his fastball and slider makes every outing an adventure. Hang on tight.
* I’ve gone back and forth on the Clayton Kershaw perfect game conundrum. in our recent “On the Rox Podcast” I said that manager Dave Roberts was correct to pull Kershaw from the game in the seventh inning. rockies manager Bud Black told me I thought it was the right call, too.
Then I read my colleague Matt Schubert’s “Grading the Week” column. Mr. Schubert wrote: “… We are reminded that there have been only 23 perfect games in the history of Major League Baseball — a history that dates all the way back to the late 19th century — and all that ‘big picture’ talk goes directly out the window.
“When a shot at immortality presents itself, sometimes you just have to go with it — consequences be damned.”
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Mr. Schubert is correct.
* New left fielder Kris Bryant had yet to hit a home run (through Friday), but he’s sure got a gorgeous swing. Bryant got a hit in each of his first seven games, including four multi-hit efforts.
Bryant, however, does not look comfortable in left field. He needs to get a better feel for Coors Field in a hurry because as the weather heats up, baseballs will begin sizzling off the bat and the outfield at Coors can leave even the best of athletes dazed and confused.
* The Rockies’ early-season schedule gives them a chance to fuel fans’ hopes and build the team’s confidence. The revamped schedule that came in the wake of the lockout gave the Rockies 16 of their first 25 games at Coors Field.
They need to take care of business now because that home cooking is followed by a stretch in which 13 of 22 games are on the road.
* CJ Cron and Connor Joe have to be two of the best steals in baseball. Both came to Colorado on minor-league deals in 2021.
Now Cron, after leading the team with 28 homers and 82 RBIs last season, is setting the pace again. He leads Colorado with three homers and seven RBIs.
Joe, who has played left field and first base, and slotted in at designated hitter, has cemented himself as the team’s leadoff hitter because he finds ways to get on base. He’s hitting .321 with a .424 on-base percentage.
* Former Rockie Nolan Arenado is off to quite a start. The Cardinals’ famously baseball-obsessed third baseman tweaked his swing during the offseason and it’s paying off. Through Friday’s play, Arenado was hitting .435 (10-for-23), with four homers, three doubles, and a 1,587 OPS in six games. It’s very early, but Arenado just might be in the MVP conversation when all is said and done.
* Former Rockie Trevor Story is having a tougher time with the Red Sox. He signed his contract late, so he got only 11 at-bats during spring training. Then I missed three games of the regular season because of food poisoning. In his first four games with Boston, Story hit .235 (4-for-17) with no home runs, one RBI and seven strikeouts.