Aaron Cook has been an interesting case so far this season. In four starts coming into Wednesday's day game against the Padres, Cook has looked terrible. He is a sinker ball pitcher whose pitches were staying up in the zone. After three starts Cook had already given up five home runs. He gave up 20 all last season.
Wednesday was a whole different story. Cook had a seven pitch first inning, an eight pitch fourth inning and through four innings was only to 58 pitches. Most importantly, his sinker looked like the sinker that landed him in the All-Star Game at Yankees Stadium last July.
Cook gave up only two hits through the first six innings before running into trouble in the seventh inning when he gave up three runs on three hits including a home run by Adrian Gonzalez.
Despite the late struggles, there is a sense of relief for Cook and the Rockies. The sinker ball that had seemed to disappear was back.
At the plate, Todd Helton showed once again that his surgically repaired back is perfectly healthy. In the bottom of the third inning, Helton hit an absolute bullet into the Rockies bullpen. It was a no-doubt-about-it home run. The bomb gave the Rockies a 3-0 cushion.
In the sixth inning, Helton came up with two men out and the bases loaded. In typical Helton fashion, he worked the count full and fouled off a pitch, and then laced a ball into the outfield to score two runs.
Helton finished the day going 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI's. His batting average has silenced his critics as it now stands at .303. Helton also has 15 RBI's, more than half of what he finished the season with last year when he checked in at 29.
It is clear with Helton that he is feeling better. Although he only has two home runs, the bat speed is back. He is able to foul off pitches that he does not like and wait to get a pitch to drive. He is also hitting the ball to the opposite field quite a bit better, which shows that his hands are quick enough to let the ball get deep on him.
With Helton healthy, the Rockies lineup is undoubtedly better. He brings a bat that is not only difficult to get out, but he also has such an ability to wear a pitcher out with his ability to foul pitches off. Since 2002, Helton has more foul balls than any other player in baseball. That includes Helton missing almost half of the season last year.
The biggest shame of Helton's career may be the fact that he had to endure so many years on a losing ball club. It seems that the majority of the media, and even many baseball fans in Colorado, missed several years of world class baseball by Helton.
If Helton had played in a place like New York or Boston, he very well may be considered one of the best first baseman to play the game.
Those who disagree point to the fact that Helton plays half of his games in Coors Field. However, if the numbers are broken down, Helton's road stats closely resemble that of Alex Rodriguez, Pete Rose, and Derek Jeter.
With Helton swinging a hot bat, the opposition may want to get to the starting pitcher early because the Rockies lineup is extremely potent with Helton protecting all of the other hitters.