Defense And The Bullpen Fueling The Colorado Rockies Hot Streak…

How would you like your favorite team to lose to the Colorado Rockies today? Would you like them to be beaten senseless, like the Rockies beat the St Louis Cardinals 10-1 on June 6th? Maybe you would like it better if the Rockies beat them in a close game, wire to wire like they beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on June 17th? Or perhaps you would prefer for your team to lose to the Rockies in their final at-bat, like the Rockies beat the Pirates on June 20th?

These are the questions that fans and teams alike are asking when they now face the buzzsaw known as the Colorado Rockies. That’s because the Rockies have won 16 out of their 17 games and are winning games in every way possible.

The Rockies are now 36-33 and have thrown their hat into the middle of the Wild Card race. How have the Rockies turned their season around? Many will point to the firing of Clint Hurdle on May 29th. Under new manager Jim Tracy, the Rockies are 18-5. While there is no arguing that Tracy has made an impact on the Rockies, I am going to look two other reasons why the Rockies are rolling – Defense and the bullpen.

First, the Rockies inserted rookie and super-athlete Dexter Fowler in the starting centerfield spot. Fowler can cover a ton of ground in the spacious Coors Field and has stabilized the outfield defense. He is able to get to balls that Ryan Spilborghs normally couldn’t get to.

Dexter Fowler

Dexter Fowler

This move allowed Spilborghs to move to leftfield, where he is much better suited. Brad Hawpe is still a below average fielder in right (-7.3 UZR and a 1.8 RF), but as Meatloaf once said “Two out of three ain’t bad.” Having Spilborghs in left and Fowler in center, allows Fowler to cheat more towards right center, so he can get to balls Hawpe can’t.

The second move the Rockies made to sure up the defense was to insert Ian Stewart for the player formally known as Garrett Atkins at third, and put Clint Barmes at second full-time. With Stewart and Barmes in the infield, along with the steady Todd Helton at first and the potential Gold Glove winning Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, the Rockies have one of the best defensive infields in baseball.

One of the big keys to winning baseball games, especially in Coors Field, is not give the team more than three outs in an inning. With this new defense, the Rockies are playing sound, defensive baseball and are making teams work for their runs.

The other key to the Rockies’ recent success has been there bullpen, particularly my boy, Huston Street. I say my boy because before the season, I predicted a nice bounce back year for the former University of Texas star.

Street has been on fire

Street has been on fire

There is a lot to be said for a team that has a stable closer to nail down a save in the ninth inning. It allows all the other relievers to fit into their own roles. Nobody is questioning what their role is in the pen.

Street has 16 saves in 17 opportunities this year and has really turned it on in the months of May and June. In May, Street was six for six in save opportunities with a 0.82 ERA. In June, Street is 1-0 with eight saves and a 2.79 ERA. Street has now recorded either a save or a win in 10 of his last 11 appearances.

This isn’t the first time the Rockies have gone on a streak like this. As we know, the Rockies won 20 out of 21 games in 2007 to make their first ever World Series appearance. Is there going to be another “Rocktober” in Colorado? We will just have to wait and see, but right now the Rockies are on one serious roll.

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