For years, the Colorado Rockies have avoided the concept of a full roster rebuild, shifting strategies and moving in another direction in reaction to lean seasons.
While the club has not committed to a roster reconstruction this year, actions speak loudly for Colorado, which is headed to its fifth straight losing season. The Rockies unloaded veterans and expiring contracts before the trade deadline, while restocking the farm system with pitching.
The club also has opened opportunities for younger players, and some are taking advantage. More opportunities are ahead when Colorado plays host to the Chicago White Sox on Friday night in the first of a three-game weekend series in Denver.
Chicago will send Michael Kopech (5-10, 4.58 ERA) to the mound against Peter Lambert (2-4, 5.46) in a battle of right-handers Friday night.
The White Sox will be without shortstop Tim Anderson, who will begin serving a five-game suspension for a fight with Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez on Aug. 5. Anderson had the suspension reduced from six games by Major League Baseball on Thursday.
Lambert has worked his way from Tommy John surgery back into the Rockies‘ rotation. He has made 20 appearances this year, the last six as a starter, but has been a hard-luck pitcher of late. He has lost his last three starts in large part due to Colorado’s offense producing a combined two runs in the latter two of those outings.
Many of those runs came from players who are getting their first extended chance in the majors. Nolan Jones has hit 12 home runs since being recalled in late May and was 5-for-12 with a homer and three RBIs against the Diamondbacks.
He has tried to remain consistent since his call-up.
“There are more mental goals for me — try to stay as even-keeled as I can,” Jones said recently. “The lows are really tough.”
Chicago has experienced plenty of lows in a disappointing season. Two years ago, the White Sox won 93 games and the American League Central crown. Last year they dropped to a .500 club, but things have imploded in 2023. Heading into the upcoming series, they are 25 games below .500 at 48-73 and headed toward a long offseason.
Chicago has some bright spots, such as the season put together by Luis Robert Jr., who leads the team in batting average (.273), home runs (32), RBIs (66) and stolen bases (16). He hit a game-winning home run Tuesday against the crosstown rival Chicago Cubs.
The home run came despite a sore right pinky.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to play every day and have a strong finish to the season,” Robert said through an interpreter. “That’s my goal, to try to be able to finish this season strong and if I have to get extra treatment before the game to be able to play, I’ll do it because that’s my goal.”
Robert should enjoy hitting in Denver’s thin air, and Kopech probably won’t be intimidated by it. Kopech is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in two career starts against the Rockies, including one outing at Colorado on July 26, 2022, when he tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings.
The White Sox hope to have Eloy Jimenez available for Friday. He sat out Wednesday’s game against the Cubs with groin tightness but is considered day to day.
—Field Level Media