Early numbers showed Rox can excel on road

Colorado starts weekend on a 3-16 skid away from Coors Field

July 28th, 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Rockies' quarter-century-old pattern of road struggles refuses to go away.

After starting 24-10 away from Coors Field, the Rockies head into a three-game set against the National League East-leading Nationals on a 3-16 road skid. They began this road swing by getting swept at St. Louis in a three-game set.

All's not doom and gloom, of course. The Rockies currently hold the second NL Wild Card spot, at 1 1/2 games behind the Wild Card-leading D-backs and, more importantly, 4 1/2 ahead of the Brewers. Despite going winless against the Cardinals, they've won six of their past 10 -- and no team behind them has done better in its past 10.

Traditional -- and lazy -- analysis stops at the problems Colorado has hitting away from Coors Field. Road offense has actually gone from an early strength to a weakness. But the pitching -- particularly from starters -- has experienced the same downturn.

This year's traditional and advanced numbers show a chunk of good baseball through June 10, which means the Rockies are capable of playing well away from home.

Through June 10, the damage hitters caused when putting balls in play offset a high strikeout rate on the road:

• Batting average: .261 (tied for sixth in MLB)

• Slugging percentage: .418 (11th)

• Weighted on-base average (wOBA): .320 (tied for 11th)

• Strikeouts: 317 (third most)

Since June 11, well, at least the strikeout rate has improved:

BA: .232 (27th)

SLG: .326 (30th)

wOBA: .276 (30th)

Strikeouts: 181 (seventh most)

So how do you reverse a bad pattern?

Bite by bite, says right fielder , who hasn't posted a road RBI since his three against the Phillies on May 24.

"Just put that in the past, like everything else," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes we win series, and we do the same thing. You just put everything in the past, show up the next day and expect to win. That should be the mentality when we get to Washington -- try to win the series. If it happens, we keep moving forward. If it doesn't happen, we keep moving forward."

The Rox nearly made a comeback in Tuesday's 3-2 loss at St. Louis, and they scored five runs against Cards All-Star in Wednesday's 10-5 loss, which has second baseman DJ LeMahieu seeing positives.

" We played OK after the break -- obviously not in this series," LeMahieu said Wednesday. "But we're ready to get hot again."

First-year Colorado manager Bud Black said it comes back to pitching. For example, in the St. Louis series, neither  nor  made it to five innings in the two of the losses. Such struggles have gone from uncommon to common.

Through June 10, on the road:

• BA against: .230 (third lowest in MLB)

• SLG against: .396 (tied for fourth lowest)

• Whiff rate: 23 percent (ranking not available)

• Hard-hit rate (95 mph or higher exit velocity, according to Statcast™): 15 percent (sixth-lowest)

And, starting June 11:

• BAA: .333 (highest in MLB)

• SLG: .565 (highest in MLB)

• Whiff rate: 18.5 percent

• Hard-hit rate: 16.2 percent (14th lowest)

"We've got to pitch well, home or road," Black said. "I know I say that all the time. But you're going to continue hearing it from me. Look at the teams at the top of their division, where they are in walks, look where they are in strikeouts, look where they are in batting average against -- all those things. That's our challenge this year and in ensuing years."