DENVER -- As the Rockies started their second homestand of the season on Friday, they found themselves in the middle of the pack in the National League West. While manager Jim Tracy acknowledged the team has picked itself up to win its "fair share of games," he has his sights set on the Rockies winning more than their share, which prompted a tweak to the lineup for Friday's series opener with the Mets, as he dropped Dexter Fowler from second to eighth and moved hot-hitting Jonathan Herrera from the bench to the No. 2 spot.
"We're 18 games into a season that each and every day there seems to be something that isn't quite where you'd like it to be," Tracy said. "Our starting pitching was a little suspect early on. Our bullpen picked us up and was phenomenal. As of late, we've gotten much more consistent starting pitching, but we've had a couple of hiccups in the bullpen."
The juggle to the lineup comes on the heels of the Rockies' 40th franchise doubleheader on Wednesday, which was the first where the club combined for fewer than 10 hits in the two games. The Rockies scored three runs while splitting the doubleheader, and Tracy is looking to enhance the club's performance in "setting stages" for the middle of the lineup.
The Rockies' lineup has, entering Friday, been most vulnerable at the top, with Marco Scutaro hitting .227 (15-for-66) and Folwer at .222 (12-for-54). With third baseman Chris Nelson still sore after a diving play in the first game on Wednesday, Friday was a perfect day to get Herrera and his .389 (7-for-18) average in the lineup.
"[Herrera's] back in there today at third base, and in order to try and create something at the top and get these guys in the middle the opportunity to get something going there seeing some Rockies on base, we're going to try this," Tracy said. "But I also think it serves this purpose: it gives Dexter Fowler an opportunity to not have to stand there not feeling good about the fact that he's in that position hitting in the order and he's not getting on base and heap that on top of him, in addition to the fact that there's some things in relation to his swing that he's looking for."
Tracy indicated it could be a one-day move or a multiple-game switch, but there are advantages to Fowler hitting in front of the pitcher at the bottom of the order. If Fowler can exercise patience, he should draw more walks, bringing his speed into play.
"With him eighth, if we get him on as a leadoff guy, we have options other than just bunting the guy to second base and giving up an out," Tracy said. "We can do it that way, but there's other things we can think about doing with the type of speed that he has."