|Jeremy Guthrie battled through 7 rough innings on Monday.|
However, after 10 baseball games in the 2012 season, it seems as if the Colorado Rockies might think a little higher of themselves than they should be.
In the midst of an offseason dedicated to rebuilding the clubhouse culture, the Rockies acquired right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie from the Baltimore Orioles. Guthrie was the ace of a struggling Baltimore staff over the past three seasons. While he led the league in losses in 2011, playing in the A.L. East may have skewed those numbers. He has long been viewed as a quality starter, despite poor records.
The Rockies sold Guthrie to the fans as an "innings-eater," a guy who would give the team seven innings every time he went out to the mound and make sure the bullpen was well rested. He has pitched over 200 innings in each of the past three seasons.
Isn't an "innings-eater" someone who should be occupying the fifth spot in the rotation rather than the No. 1 spot? An "innings-eater" is a guy who will win a few games here and there, but his job is mainly to be dependable enough to go out and give a decent start and give the team a chance to win in between the more dominant starters who can be depended on to win games.
Rockies fans may remember a true "innings-eater" named Josh Fogg. The former Rockie perfectly defines a guy who is good enough to give his team a chance to win, but not nearly good enough to be considered an ace.
Make no mistake, Guthrie is a talented pitcher. He knows what he is doing on the mound. The only problem is that an ace of a staff needs to be more than an "innings-eater." Someone who is the ace of a staff is a guy who needs to make enough pitches to get out of innings when he gives up hits and either possesses the ability to strike batters out, or get double play balls on a regular basis.
Through three starts, although a small sample size, it seems as if Guthrie might not be a fit as the ace of the staff. So far, he profiles more like Aaron Cook than someone who can lead a team to a playoff run in September. Cook had his dominant days, but generally gave up a bunch of hits and later in his career it was a flip of the coin whether or not he could get that much-needed out.
To Guthrie's credit, he managed to keep his pitch count low enough to get through seven innings. The bullpen was in desperate need for a night in which they weren't required to pick up five or six innings. The reality is though, Guthrie must find a way to get ground balls, especially pitching half of his games at Coors Field, where the home runs will hurt a pitcher less than the huge gaps that a double's hitter salivates at the thought of.
It would be nice to mention something positive for the Rockies on Monday night, but it would take hours to mine a few solid details out of a game in which the club looked lethargic and were dominated by Cory Luebke, a good young pitcher, but someone that the club will have to regularly beat if they expect to be taken seriously in the pitching-rich National League West.
Guthrie certainly wasn't great, but it would have taken quite the performance for him to beat the Padres anyway. The offense scored one run. They looked confused at the plate, and the lack of energy was eerily similar to 2011.
The reality for the Rockies is that if they want anyone to believe that they have a chance to contend, they must win games against bad teams. They cannot lose series to teams like the Astros and the Padres. Of course, even good teams lose a few series here and there to bad teams, but for the most part, when a good team runs into a bad team, it is very evident who is superior. They play all around better baseball and find ways to get the job done.
If the Rockies can't find a way to do that soon, they will be be trying to play catch-up all season long, something that this team doesn't seem built to do.
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