DENVER -- The most consequential theme of the 2023 season for the Rockies has been an injury-depleted starting rotation. Tuesday night’s loss by six runs to the Giants at Coors Field was a glaring example.
Dinelson Lamet, who was not in Colorado’s rotation plans coming into the season, was pressed into service and lasted only three innings before five Rockies relievers combined to give up seven runs. Overall, Rockies pitchers threw 240 pitches, walked a season-high 11 batters and surrendered eight doubles, the most by any team in a game this season.
What Colorado needed in the worst way Wednesday night was a strong, lengthy start to give a heavily taxed bullpen a breather and restore some semblance of hope that the club could somehow piece things together to get through the summer.
Seabold worked around the hiccup to complete six scoreless frames before issuing a walk to Michael Conforto to open the seventh, followed by a Mitch Haniger single. That was the end of the night for Seabold, who was charged with two runs after Brent Suter came on in relief and the inherited runners scored on RBI singles from Austin Slater and Casey Schmitt.
The Rockies’ bullpen faltered again, with Suter and Justin Lawrence, both of whom have been excellent this season, appearing mortal and combining to surrender three runs of their own. The Giants tied the game with another Slater RBI single in the eighth, and a squeeze bunt by Patrick Bailey brought in the go-ahead run against Lawrence.
The late-inning collapse nullified what was shaping up to be an uplifting night after a dejecting performance Tuesday. Colorado’s lineup backed Seabold with three second-inning runs before rookie Nolan Jones crushed a Logan Webb sinker 483 feet into the second deck above the Rockies’ bullpen in the sixth.
The Statcast-projected 483-foot shot is the second longest in the Majors this season, behind Giancarlo Stanton’s 485-foot blast off the Giants’ Ross Stripling on April 2.
But for a team in desperate need of length from its starters -- and, really, any sort of consistent contribution from anyone not named Kyle Freeland -- the Rockies had to be pleased with what Seabold showed them Wednesday. It was his second consecutive strong outing after he gave up one run over 5 1/3 innings at Arizona on June 1.
“That’s the version that you’d like to see out of Connor and his stuff,” manager Bud Black said. “Four pitches -- fastball command to both sides of the plate, good changeup, slider, a couple of curveballs. A mix of pitches, changing speeds, disrupting timing of the hitters, crowding some guys on their hands.”
Seabold said the changeup has been “the difference-maker” for him over the past two starts.
“I’ve just gone back to how I was throwing it before,” he said. “We were worried about the arm slot and how high it was coming out compared to the fastball. And we just put that to the side and just kind of started just throwing it. And so far, it’s been really good.”
With more outings like his past two, Seabold could become a significant difference-maker for the Rockies, who lost ace Germán Márquez for the season when he underwent Tommy John surgery after already missing Antonio Senzatela due to a knee injury from last year and then a subsequent elbow injury that will likely keep him out until August.
Prior to the game, Black talked about how the role of the starting pitcher has evolved since his days as a southpaw in the Majors from 1981-95, primarily with the Royals, Cleveland and the Giants.
It seems like starters regularly getting past the sixth inning is a relic of a bygone era.
“In general, we as the professional baseball community have allowed that to happen over decades,” Black said. “It would take a decade to get back to that -- it would have to be a complete mind shift … to go back to being able to build those starters not only physically, but mentally.”
Good thing for the Rockies that Seabold has going deep into a game on his mind every time he takes the mound.
“I’m always thinking at least six innings,” he said.