DENVER -- At times, the Rockies' September roster feels like an embarrassment of riches. And while the core infielders are not battling for playing time and the rotation has used a franchise-low seven pitchers this season, the outfield is another story.While seven is an unusually low number for starting pitchers
DENVER -- At times, the Rockies' September roster feels like an embarrassment of riches. And while the core infielders are not battling for playing time and the rotation has used a franchise-low seven pitchers this season, the outfield is another story.
While seven is an unusually low number for starting pitchers used in a season, it's a high number for outfielders on an active roster. Nine have started for the Rockies this season, and eight of them are on the roster now, including first baseman Ian Desmond -- all valid choices.
"It's a good problem to have, if you have good players," manager Bud Black said Tuesday. "On a nightly basis, what we do as coaches is we try to figure out the best group on that night. There's a lot of factors that go into that. It's challenging, but it's a good challenge. It's much better that way than the other way -- 'Who are we going to play?' You don't want that."
For Tuesday's second game in a four-game set with the D-backs at Coors Field, the Rockies started David Dahl (.268, 10 HR, and 28 RBIs) in left field, Charlie Blackmon (.286, 26 HR, 62 RBIs) in center and Carlos Gonzalez (.281, 15 HR, 59 RBIs) in right.
Dahl has had to fight his way into the lineup, and his 2-for-5 night with his first career grand slam helped him stay in the cleanup spot for a second straight game.
Blackmon is a staple in center, and though he's struggled at times this season, he's surging in September, hitting three homers against the Dodgers over the weekend and going 3-for-3 in the opener against the D-backs while making standout plays in the field.
Gonzalez sat for two days, but his success against starter Zack Greinke earned him a return to right field on Tuesday. He had a blistering July, hitting .345 (29-84) with six homers and 18 RBIs, and though he's cooled off a little, his steady presence and undiminished Gold Glove prowess in the field has helped put the Rockies in contention for their first National League West crown.
And on the bench, the Rockies have Noel Cuevas, who is hitting .296 (8-for-27) as a pinch-hitter; Matthew Holliday (.355, 11-for-31 with two homers since his return) earning starts against left-handers and serving as a power bat off the bench; Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra (.275, 5, 49), who has played more games in the outfield this season than anyone save Blackmon; and Raimel Tapia (4-for-19), who stole 21 bags and hit .302 with 11 homers in 434 Triple-A at-bats.
"At this time of the year, everybody knows what's at stake, and everybody knows what their part in all this is," Black said. "Unselfishness and team goals come to the forefront for the playoffs, even though some of the decisions for us as a coaching staff and me as a manager are maybe not appreciated by the player. But in most cases, those guys get it."
Postseason passport punch
After beating Ogden, 6-5, on Sunday to take the best-of-three Divisional Series playoffs, the Pioneer League Grand Junction Rockies opened the best-of-three Pioneer League finals on Tuesday night at home against Great Falls.
The team got a boost this summer when Holliday began his comeback journey to the Major Leagues with a brief stint in Grand Junction. Holliday played in a game on Aug. 1, and went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk as the designated hitter, qualifying him for a share of Grand Junction's postseason winnings.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.