Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Same old issues for Colorado Rockies, starting pitching lets them down

Josh Outman struggled on Wednesday night for the Rockies.
Maybe the performances from Alex White and Christian Friedrich were juts a mirage.

On Wednesday night the Colorado Rockies returned to form, getting a terrible starting pitching performance from Josh Outman. It was the second straight poor performance from a starter in as many nights. The Rockies dropped the game 6-1.

Outman, transitioning from being a reliever into a starter, was going to be lucky to make it through five innings before the game started. He was on a pitch count going into the game limiting him to 80 pitches because it was just his second start. He wouldn't make it that far, however, as the Diamondbacks tattooed him for five runs in just three innings. Outman finished with 69 pitches, 40 for strikes.

The start underscored the biggest issue the Rockies have faced all season long. Their starting pitching has failed to get the job done. It was an issue coming into the season that the front office was well aware of, but the struggles have gone far beyond what even the most pessimistic outlook could have seen.

As good as the performances from White and Friedrich were on Sunday and Monday respectively, the outings from Jeremy Guthrie and Outman were equally as bad. It is the primary reason why the Rockies, stacked with the best lineup in the National League West, have only a sliver of a chance to compete.

Any momentum that a team builds is immediately thrown out the window when a starter takes the mound and starts serving up batting practice. Both Guthrie and Outman got smoked. Even balls that resulted in outs were hit hard. It is hard for an offense to mount a threat when they know they are going to have to put up at least seven runs to even sniff a win.

That said, the offense has to put up a fight, regardless of who is on the mound and how well they are pitching. Hand it to Diamondback starters Ian Kennedy and Wade Miley for throwing great games. However, putting up just one run in 18 innings of baseball is as equally disappointing as the bad starts.

It is easy to chalk the lack of offense up to discouragement in the pitching. The fact is, however, that is simply an excuse.

The Diamondbacks success came in large part to their ability to shut down two of the hottest hitters in the National League over the previous week. Dexter Fowler went just 2-for-12 in the three-game set. His average was as high as .305 on Sunday. It currently sits at .288 after the trip to the desert. Carlos Gonzalez, who was smoldering before hitting the road, went just 1-for-11 in the series.

As good as the Rockies offense is, the kryptonite for this club is shutting the offense down. The opposition knows that they are going to have a good chance to score runs against the Rockies pitching, therefore if they are able to prevent big innings from the Rockies offense, they will be in a pretty good position to win a baseball game.

After the three game set, the Rockies head home for six more games before they hit the road again. It is a big homestand. The team currently sits eight games under .500 at 24-32. A bad homestand, even a .500 homestand, could spell this team's doom when they go out for nine games against very difficult opponents in Detroit, Philadelphia and Texas. If they haven't gained some ground before that trip, they could easily go 3-6 or 2-7 on that trip, relegating them to simply hoping they can get back to .500 before the end of the season.

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