'Very frustrating': Seabold still waiting for luck to turn

July 16th, 2023

DENVER -- Rockies rookie right-hander felt he’d captured the feeling with starts of 5 1/3, six and six innings from June 1-12. Just one was a team victory, but he felt ready to parlay his pitch mix into something special.

Possibly the worst part of his performance since -- including the six runs he yielded in 2 1/3 innings of Saturday night’s 6-3 loss to the Yankees at Coors Field -- is that the feeling is still there.

The results? Well, he’s 0-5 with a 14.21 ERA since June 17. Saturday, the damage was done in a five-run second inning that saw DJ LeMahieu flare a 1-2 pitch barely on the plate to right field, where fellow rookie Nolan Jones misplayed it into a double; a bloop single by Harrison Bader that second baseman Harold Castro couldn’t make an over-the-head catch on; a 1-2 single by Gleyber Torres; and, after starting 0-2, a mistake fastball on 1-2 that Giancarlo Stanton drove for an opposite-field homer to right.

“I gotta be honest,” Seabold said. “I’m hard on myself. I’ve made it known that I’m hard on myself. And today, I didn’t feel like there were many mistakes.

“I don’t know if they’re seeing something that we’re not seeing and they’re taking good hacks off me. The way I pitched the last two outings, my luck should’ve been better.”

Making Seabold’s struggles more frustrating was the way several bullpen actors allowed nothing for the final 6 2/3 frames.

Gavin Hollowell replaced Seabold with two on in the third, stranded them and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. Veteran Matt Koch went two spotless innings. Tommy Doyle, in his first Major League outing since 2020 after he underwent right shoulder surgery in ‘21, struck out two against one hit in two frames. Brad Hand, a veteran lefty who figures to be a popular ask before the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, fanned one in a spotless ninth.

Seabold’s high ERA is not all bad fortune. He allowed four home runs in Atlanta on June 17, and he made an aborted attempt to start on short rest after that. He also had a home clunker against the Tigers on July 2.

But three of the games of this rough stretch were against the Dodgers, whose plate discipline is among the best in the game; the Giants, a team whose approach allows it to increase the sum of its parts; and the Yankees, who have veteran hitters like LeMahieu and Stanton who can deliver hits on swings poor and good, on pitches decent and poor. Stanton’s homer was on a fastball that was supposed to be up and in but leaked over the plate.

Seabold acknowledged that Torres’ leadoff triple in the first (Torres scored on Stanton’s groundout) and Stanton’s home run were on poor pitches. Beyond that, he had a hard time reconciling the pitches with the results.

LeMahieu reaching out for a tough pitch was familiar to fans who saw him star for the Rockies 2012-18 and Bader’s had an element of fortune. But Kyle Higashioka’s sacrifice fly, Torres’ RBI single and Stanton’s home run all came with two strikes.

MLB-wide, after any count reaches two strikes, hitters produce a .171/.248/.270 slash line. According to STATS Inc., Seabold entered Saturday yielding a .233/.248/.270 line, and Stanton’s homer was the fifth he has allowed on two strikes.

When a count begins 0-2, hitters MLB-wide slash .165/.198/.254. Seabold went into Saturday allowing a .240/.263/.320 line, with Stanton’s homer being the second.

Swings and results like Seabold’s shouldn’t happen, but the numbers aren’t lying.

“It’s very frustrating right now,” Seabold said. “It feels like I’m making the two-strike pitches, too, and I’m not getting any bites.”

Trying to build starter depth, the Rockies obtained Seabold from the Red Sox in a January trade. He began the season in long relief before injuries forced him into the rotation.

With four of the five starters the Rockies expected to use this season on the injured list (and Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela out for the year with elbow injuries), the Rockies have little choice but to keep starting Seabold and let him clear the confusion. They’re down to three healthy starters.

Still, on Saturday Seabold became the first Rockies pitcher to lose five straight starts since Tyler Chatwood (June 24-Aug. 2, 2017).

“There’s really nothing you can pinpoint at this point … but that’s baseball,” manager Bud Black said. “As a pitcher, you’ve got to absorb those types of hits, and those hits happen at this ballpark.

“You’ve got to bounce back and make pitches.”