If there was one positive from this road trip for the Rockies, it was Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers has never felt more confident, and it’s showing in everything he does. On Sunday, he had one of the Rockies’ four hits to cap off a strong week at the plate.
The Rockies, though, weren’t able to get anything going, and another bullpen collapse allowed the Brewers to easily cruise to a 5-0 win to sweep the series. The other hits came from starting pitcher Chi Chi González, shortstop Trevor Story and catcher Elías Díaz. The Rockies are an MLB-worst 6-31 on the road, and have been outscored 202-97.
Rodgers had seven hits in five games this week, including two multihit games. For Rodgers, it's the first time he’s been healthy enough and given consistent enough playing time to show what he can do. After debuting in 2019, he spent most of 2020 on the injured list. Rodgers entered spring training feeling better than ever, but landed on the injured list again with a hamstring strain.
He watched from the sideline as the season started, pining for his chance to get back in there. Rodgers was activated May 21, but, as is often the case when a player starts midseason, things weren’t clicking right away. His timing at the plate was off, and he wasn’t as consistent as he wanted to be.
“I obviously wanted to come off the IL just raking, like everyone does, but it doesn’t always work out like that,” he said. “I’m glad to see where I’m at right now.”
Then came June 5, when Brendan Rodgers hit his first career home run. That night, manager Bud Black knew, or at least strongly hoped, that it would be the turning point for Rodgers. They’d been waiting for Rodgers, their first-round pick in 2015, to show the talent they knew he had in him.
In the 19 games since then, including 16 starts, Rodgers has 19 hits and four home runs. It’s the most comfortable he’s felt at the major league level, he said. He's seeing the ball better now, and his chase rate is down.
"There’s a confidence growing each time he steps into the batters box," Black said. "I think more than anything there’s a calmness but aggressiveness."
On Sunday, Rodgers and González were just about the only things to go right for the Rockies. González pitched five innings, allowing just one run, a home run to Keston Hiura. It was González’s best start since coming back to the rotation earlier this month.
The bullpen, though, fell apart for the third day in a row after another solid outing from the starter. The bullpen gave up four runs, with three from Lucas Gilbreath, the only left-handed reliever with Ben Bowden being sent down to Triple-A prior to the game. Justin Lawrence gave up one run in two innings.
"Some of the young relievers are learning under fire," Black said. "There are going to be some growing pains."
The Rockies return home for a seven-game home stand, including welcoming back a full crowd Monday for opening day 2.0. They’ll hope for a long outing from Kyle Freeland, as they don’t have a day off until July 5 and the bullpen is taxed.