Who is most likely to break out of a Rock­ies slump: Story, Des­mond or CarGo?

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

Kiz: If you had told me on open­ing day the Rock­ies could be 52-39 at the al­ls­tar break with­out mean­ing­ful of­fen­sive con­tri­bu­tions from Ian Des­mond, Trevor Story and Car­los Gon­za­lez, I would have called you crazy. But here we are … although I’m not sure Colorado can keep rolling to­ward the play­offs with so many holes in its bat­ting or­der. Can man­ager Bud Black count on any of these guys to bounce back?

Groke: The ques­tion is not “can” he count on them. He must. There’s no way around it. Black can­not just lop off three core play­ers and hope their re­place­ments reach the same level. Sure, Raimel Tapia can fly around the bases and Pat Valaika is prov­ing to be a bet­ter-than-ca­pa­ble bench player. But this team was built for Des­mond and Gon­za­lez, es­pe­cially, to con­trib­ute in a big way. And Story’s de­fense is too dif­fi­cult to keep out of the lineup.

Kiz: My guess is the swing of Story re­quires so much tin­ker­ing that we should write off this sea­son as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. CarGo? If he con­tin­ues to slump, Black has op­tions in the out­field. The Rock­ies, how­ever, re­ally need Des­mond to heat up, be­cause first base­man Mark Reynolds, who doesn’t have a homer or even a sin­gle RBI in July, has started to cool off.

Groke: Let me get all Statsy-casty on you, Kiz. One of the best in­di­ca­tors of qual­ity hit­ting, even in a slump, is how hard the ball flies off the bat. Exit ve­loc­ity is the tech­ni­cal term. And among the three you men­tioned, the hit­ter with the high­est per­cent­age of hard-hit base­balls is Story (fol­lowed by Des­mond, then Gon­za­lez). Story also has the low­est per­cent­age of soft con­tact. How­ever — and it’s a big how­ever — he has struck out 100 times. Far too many. If he can lay off the junk out­side the zone and stick to cook­ies over the plate, Story can catch fire.

Kiz: Des­mond was signed to a five-year, $70 mil­lion con­tract. Un­like the Los An­ge­les Dodgers, with their un­lim­ited pay­roll, Colorado can­not erase an ex­pen­sive mis­take by throw­ing more money at a prob­lem. In­juries robbed Des­mond of April and have ir­ri­tated him in July. But there can be no more ex­cuses. Colorado needs at least a dozen homers and an .850 OPS from Des­mond dur­ing the sec­ond half. Is that too much to ex­pect? Groke: It is most cer­tainly not too much to ask. It would be a trou­bling sign if Tapia, with his, uh, “devel­op­ing” de­fense, be­comes a start­ing out­fielder in Des­mond’s place. And for the sake of pure joy, a sud­den Gon­za­lez streak could push this team to a whole new level. But here’s the trick: When the post­sea­son chase reaches Septem­ber, Black will have to play the hot hands. At that point, there’s no time left to hope a hit­ter out­lasts a slump. Per­form or sit.

Getty Im­ages and As­so­ci­ated Press file

Clock­wise from left, Trevor Story, Ian Des­mond and Car­los Gon­za­lez all are strug­gling at the plate, but the Rock­ies need them to con­trib­ute if their suc­cess is to con­tinue.

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