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It’s not too often that the baseball gods smile upon the Colorado Rockies, but that’s exactly what’s happened during the season’s first seven games. Rookie shortstop Trevor Story’s inaugural week in the bigs has been nothing short of extraordinary. He homered twice on Opening Day in Arizona and then did it twice again in his Coors Field debut. By the time he launched another dinger in Sunday’s series finale against the Padres, Story had become the first player in baseball history with seven home runs in his team’s first six games, as well as the fastest player ever to reach seven career dingers.
His performance (almost) made fans forget about last July’s trade of perennial All-Star Troy Tulowitzki and the recent suspension of Tulo’s replacement, Jose Reyes, who was arrested in Hawaii in October on domestic violence charges. (The charges were reportedly dropped on Monday, but Reyes remains on paid administrative leave until the league decides whether and how to discipline him.)
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The result of Story’s early-season power surge has been a whole lot of bad headline puns, a new exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame showcasing the shortstop’s helmet and batting gloves (“I couldn’t give up the bat,” Story reportedly said), and a buzz around LoDo that has not been felt since the 2007 Rocktober World Series run, despite the team’s still sub-.500 record overall.
Perhaps the Rockies have MLB’s next big star on their roster, even though the league’s website only has Story ranked as the 11th-best prospect in the Colorado organization. But the way Story seized the starting shortstop job in Spring Training—when he led the club with six homers in 53 at-bats—suggests that he might be a guy who relishes the pressure. At a minimum, Story gives the club more potential star power to flaunt alongside third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Carlos Gonzales and become the next Coors Field fan favorite.
But Rockies fans who hope Story is the team’s savior could end up disappointed. While his eye-popping numbers earned him National League Player of the Week honors, it’s just one week. The Irving, Texas, native surely can’t continue at this rate (after Sunday he was on pace to hit 189 home runs this season), and certain other factors could dull the budding superstar’s shine.
First, as impressive as Story’s power is, his strikeout ratio is equally concerning. He struck out 11 times in his first 31 at-bats, a ratio that will become much more troublesome if and when pitchers adjust and his power dies down. (Scouting reports have tabbed him as a player with 20-something homer potential.)
The second hard truth about Story’s fairy tale is that no matter how much hype he generates or how many homers he hits, the Rockies won’t make it out of the National League West cellar—much less back to the playoffs—without quality pitching. Considering they’ve already given up a league-leading 58 runs through seven games (the team is currently 3–4), the Rockies immediately need at least a few other competent starters to complement Jorge De La Rosa. And to date, their bullpen and its 8.88 ERA continues to be the tire fire it was last season.
You don’t have to look any further than the 2016 home opener—when Story went deep twice but the Rockies got shellacked by the Padres 13-6—to recognize that even a Murderers’ Row lineup with this pitching staff won’t be nearly enough to win the Rockies a division title, let alone a pennant. Until the team figures out how to alter its pitching status quo, by August, even these intriguing “Storylines” won’t be enough to keep Denver’s attention.