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Rockies rookie Elehuris Montero is potent but needs seasoning

Rockies rookie Elehuris Montero is an aggressive hitter, there’s no denying that.

In the fourth inning of the Rockies’ 12-6 loss to Arizona on Sunday, he ambushed Zac Gallen’s first-pitch cutter, sending him into right center field for a two-run brace.

Considering Gallen’s quality of throwing this season, Montero’s aggressive offensive plan made sense. Gallen, after all, is 12-2 with a 2.50 ERA, and his .908 WHIP and 5.9 hits allowed per nine are the best in the National League.

“Doing what he did against Gallen, arguably one of the best pitchers in the game right now, driving the ball right center on a cutter, is a good sign,” manager Bud Black said. “And that’s a positive he can take away (from this game).”

A number of Rockies players made their major league debuts this season, including first baseman/right fielder Michael Toglia and wide receiver Brian Serven. It was Montero, however, that had the biggest impact. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 235 pounds, Montero is “country strong,” as Black puts it.

Going into Tuesday night’s game in Chicago against the White Sox, Montero is hitting .257 (35 for 136) with five home runs, 14 doubles and 17 RBIs. He has played in 41 games since his debut on May 1, starting 15 games at third base, 11 at first base and 10 as a designated hitter.

There remains a work in progress on the field, as illustrated by a sloppy throwing error from third base in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game.

But there is no denying its power to marble.

“When he throws a ball, you know it,” third baseman Ryan McMahon said. “The ball explodes on his bat and he has a solid swing too.”

But there are holes in the plate-level approach to Montero that need to be patched. His strikeout rate of 32.9% against a walk rate of 4.2%, as well as his on-base percentage of .294, are numbers that reveal a work in progress.

Montero’s at bat in Sunday’s eighth inning against Arizona All-Star left-hander Joe Mantiply illustrated just how far Montero has to go. Right off the bat, Mantiply asked Montero to fish off-speed pitches, eventually sniffing him out on a 3-2 bender.

“Mantiply is an All-Star with good side things – a slider and a change, below the zone,” Black said. “That’s the thing that ‘Monty’ needs to work on. It tended to swing low and soft. This is where the challenge advances. But it will get there. »

On the bridge

Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (6-8, 5.38 ERA) vs. White Sox RHP Michael Kopech (4-9, 3.78)

Kuhl, who is expected to become a free agent at the end of the season, is struggling. In his last start, the Rockies rallied for a 10-7, 10-inning win over Milwaukee, but the right-hander allowed five runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings, including a 499-foot homer to Christian Yelich. Since his complete shutout of the Dodgers at Coors Field on June 27, Kuhl is 1-4 in nine starts, posting a 9.08 ERA, giving up 15 homers in that span for an average of 3.40 homers per nine innings. Kuhl has never pitched against the White Sox.

Kopech, who was on the 15-day injured list from Aug. 23 to Sept. 7 with a sprained left knee, will make his 25th start of the season. He’s winless in his last six starts, going 0-3 with a 5.88 ERA, but he’s had 24 strikeouts in that span while keeping batters to a .221 batting average. . He won Chicago’s 2-1 win over the Rockies on July 26 at Coors Field, throwing 5 1/3 innings scoreless, allowing six hits, walking three, and striking out four. It’s the only time he’s faced the Rockies.

Trend: CJ Cron has one RBI in four straight games and 10 RBI overall in his last eight games. His 96 RBI lead the team.

At issue: Veteran outfielder/designated forward Charlie Blackmon is in crisis. On the just ended homestand, he went 2 for 20 with five strikeouts and his average slipped to .260.

Cast probabilities:

– Wednesday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (8-9, 4.63) at White Sox RHP Dylan Cease (14-6, 2.06), 12:10 p.m., ATTRM

— Thursday: Public holiday

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