Rockies’ rocky 2019 ended two-year playoff run

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              Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland, center, waves to the crowd after a win over the Milwaukee Brewers in 13 innings of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/John Leyba)
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DENVER (AP) — Tough times and bad timing defined the Colorado Rockies‘ hugely disappointing season that began with high hopes of ending the Dodgers’ dominance out West but unraveled under the dual demons of frustration and failure.

The pitching was horrendous, from the starters to the closers. Ace Kyle Freeland’s mystifying plunge produced a cascading effect on the pitching staff and led to a bullpen implosion.

The bats couldn’t bail out the Blake Street Blunders once superstar Nolan Arenado endured a mid-summer slump.

“This is obviously not the season that we wanted to have,” shortstop Trevor Story said as the Rockies wrapped up a 71-91 campaign that ended their two-year playoff run and sent them into an offseason of uncertainty. “We had some high expectations that we really didn’t come close to meeting.”

“I thought we were going to be good,” Arenado agreed.

Although, he acknowledges that the Rockies sort of saw this coming when the front office let DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino leave last winter, not only hurting the Rockies’ lineup and bullpen but taking something away from the clubhouse culture.

“To be honest, no Ottavino, no DJ, I thought that would have an effect,” Arenado said. “And it kind of did. But I thought we were going to still win. I thought we still had a chance to be good, but we lost a lot of pieces.”

A lot of games, too.

The Rockies finished 35 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, their biggest hole since their inaugural 1993 season when they finished 37 games behind the Braves in the old West Division.

The Colorado castoffs helped the Yankees win the AL East with LeMahieu (.327, 29 homers, 102 RBIs) and Ottavino (1.90 ERA over 66 1-3 innings) making Rockies fans rue their departures.

Major injuries included those to All-Star outfielder David Dahl (ankle), left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson (knee) and top prospect Brendan Rodgers (shoulder).

“Baseball’s a tough game, and I think we had just kind of a weird, bad year to where we didn’t hit at the right times, we didn’t pitch at the right times,” Story said.

“Just bad timing.”

Other takeaways from the Rockies’ rocky 2019 campaign:

JUNKYARD JULY

The Rockies overcame a 3-12 start to get to 40-34 only to see it all fall apart in July when they went 6-19, the worst full month in the franchise’s 27-year history.

“We didn’t hit much in July. We didn’t pitch (well) in July, either,” manager Bud Black said. “That’s a bad combo.”

JUNE SWOON

Two games against San Diego in mid-June foretold of the problems that lay ahead. The Rockies led by six runs heading into the ninth of the June 14 game and lost in 12 innings. Two days later, Wade Davis gave up four in the ninth in a 14-13 loss.

DAHL STALL

Dahl was putting together a solid year when a high right ankle sprain on Aug. 2 ended a breakout season in which he hit .302 with 15 homers.

“The numbers speak for themselves. I wish it could’ve been through the end of the year and it really could’ve been something,” Black said. “But that’s a lot to build on.”

FUTURE FUEL

“Times like this, it’s hard to see if we’re going to recover or not. Time will tell,” Arenado said. “I mean, we have to. We have to get better because these teams in our division are getting way better.”

Story, for one, will use 2019 as a motivation for 2020.

“I know this year is going to make us super hungry for next year and our offseason workouts,” he said.