LOS ANGELES -- Last year, the Rockies made the postseason without trading for a veteran starter, and have rarely made such an addition at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. But on Sunday, general manager Jeff Bridich said it's a different year, and that determination hasn't been made yet.
Before the Rockies even address what Bridich calls an "artificial deadline" of July 31, he noted that the team has to play well enough to be playoff-relevant. Going into Sunday it had won three straight but in an inconsistent year that put it at 41-42.
But if it happens, the rotation -- which not only stayed the same at last year's deadline but also didn't add veterans during the offseason -- bears watching.
"We have a lot of the same players here this year as we did last year, mostly the same team, but it's a different year. We've played differently as a group, we have different strengths and weaknesses to this point than we did last year, which means that our evaluations of the team -- as we look at the team, as it relates to an artificial deadline like the Trade Deadline -- it might be different than how we looked at things last year.
"I still think it's a little early to make that full judgement, but it's getting late quick. I don't know how to answer that quite yet, specifically regarding the rotation. But I suspect that as an organization, we will have a better idea in the next 2-3 weeks."
Last year, a starting group that often included four rookies proved good enough. This year, however, Jon Gray, the projected No. 1 pitcher, has been so inconsistent that he was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday. Additionally, Rockies pitchers have combined for a Majors-worst 6.16 home ERA, with issues in the first innings of games being especially troublesome.
But the rotation threw well four of the first five games of the current road trip, second-year pitcher Antonio Senzatela is set to enter the rotation on Tuesday against the Giants, and there is still young depth.
As for options? MLB.com offers plenty:
• Top names of pitchers and other players who could be moving
• Players whose deadline stock is rising
• Under-the-radar starting pitching options
Bridch's preference, though, is to evaluate the Rockies' need, and find out for sure who could be had if he wanted to make a deal.
"There are certainly a lot of desirable pitchers out there on a lot of teams, but part of the research this time of the year is to see what other teams' intentions are," Bridich said. "We don't make assumptions on who's available and who's out there to go get without actually having done the research about the teams."
In their first playoff season of 1995, the third year of the franchise's existence, the Rockies added Bret Saberhagen at the deadline. Since then, additions have been under the radar. Two postseason appearances brought two waiver deals -- for Mark Redman in 2007, when the team made the World Series before losing to the Red Sox, and for Jose Contreras in 2009, before the Rockies fell to the Phillies in the NL Division Series.
However, in this evaluation period there isn't just a laser focus on starting pitching as a culprit, Bridich said. Offensive struggles and bullpen issues have contributed to a 15-22 Coors Field record -- one the team hopes to make a dent in with a three-game set against the Giants starting Monday.
But the key to actually being relevant at the deadline, Bridich said, is core parts of the team and players who "need to be playing better baseball."
To make the Rockies relevant and make the question of adding talent worth addressing, a bullpen that was expected to be a strength must improve.
Lefty Chris Rusin and righty Scott Oberg have shown recent improvement after injuries and struggles, while righty Carlos Estevez and lefty Zachary Rosscup are completing rehab assignments. Two key setup men -- lefty Jake McGee and righty Bryan Shaw, both of whom signed three-year, $27 million contracts -- have struggled, and closer Wade Davis has 23 saves but has blown four (three more than last year) in the first year of a three-year, $52 million deal.
"We have done a lot of investing in the bullpen, and adding to the 'pen highly accomplished Major Leaguers," Bridich said. "I felt like we have built a deep 'pen, quality depth. They really, really carried us in April and May. It's been a tough June. Now it's time to right the ship for the group."
• Black has been asked by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to serve as a coach for the NL All-Star team. This will be Black's fourth All-Star Game as a coach. He was a member of the Angels' staff in 2003 when Mike Scioscia managed, then-Rockies manager Clint Hurdle added him to the staff in 2008, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel invited him in 2010.
• Senzatela has not been added to the roster, but Black said he would be recalled on Tuesday. Senzatela had a 6.23 ERA in 10 relief appearances before being sent to Albuquerque to build his pitch count. He is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA with 42 strikeouts against 12 walks in eight Triple-A starts.