By both versions of Wins Above Replacement, found at FanGraphs and at Baseball Reference, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been the National League’s most valuable player. Tulo’s great season, however, has been wasted as the slumping Rockies — having won only three of their previous 19 games — are now 37-51, just a game and a half ahead of the Diamondbacks for last place in the NL West.
As non-contending teams are wont to do, the Rockies will consider trading some of their expensive, established veterans to acquire younger players in order to compete in future seasons. Among the trade candidates are Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. As Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post reports, the shortstop misses the feel of competitive baseball:
“In Todd Helton, there’s someone who’s easy to look at his career here and how it played out. I have the utmost respect for Todd, but at the same time, I don’t want to be the next in line as somebody who was here for a long time and didn’t have a chance to win every single year,” said Tulowitzki, reviewing the 17 years Helton spent as the face of a franchise that never won a division title. “He played in a couple postseason games and went to one World Series. But that’s not me. I want to be somewhere where there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.”
Over the past seven seasons since Tulowitzki became the Rockies’ everyday shortstop, the Rockies have made the playoffs twice: they were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox, and they were knocked out in the 2009 NLDS by the Phillies in four games. The club has won 74 or fewer games four times and appear to be well on their way to a fifth this season. One can understand Tulowitzki’s frustration.
Tulowitzki, 29, leads the league in all three triple-slash categories at .350/.441/.608. He has hit 18 home runs and driven in 47 runs, along with his usual Gold Glove-caliber defense. Tulowitzki is earning $16 million this season and is still owed $20 million in each season between 2015-19. He’ll earn $14 million in 2020 and has a $15 million 2021 club option with a $4 million buyout.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.