Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Good news for the Colorado Rockies, their starting pitching is good enough

De La Rosa has been phenomenal.
There are sirens going off among Colorado Rockies fans. And for good reason.

This Rockies team has scored a grand total of two runs in 21 innings of baseball in Houston. The Astros are dueling the Marlins for the title of the worst team in baseball and have no business beating anyone who claims to be a legitimate contender.

The offense was downright disgusting. With runners in scoring position the Rockies seemed to think that the goal was to hit the ball right at the defense, or simply to strike out.

Simply said, the offensive performance by the Rockies was as bad of baseball as anyone will ever see. The execution was poor, the situational at-bats were bad. It was not good.  Simply said, the Rockies were lucky to get out of Houston with a win.

With the focus around the potent, yet futile offense, it is important to note a positive that is being forgotten about.

The Rockies starting pitchers have been phenomenal.

This is an important note because the commentary heading into spring training was how good the Rockies offense would be. Yet, they would have to be good because to win, they were going to need to score seven or eight runs per night. The Rockies rotation wasn't supposed to be bad, it was supposed to be historically bad.

In two games at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, the Rockies starters, Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa combined to throw 14 innings, giving up 10 hits and three runs. They struck out 13 and walked just three.

Sure, the argument could be made that the Astros lineup is as bad as it gets. It could be argued that even the Rockies starting rotation should shut down an inferior Houston lineup.

However, the fact is, this rotation is far better than anyone expected. This was a starting rotation that was supposed to be so bad the, despite a powerful lineup, experts like Keith Law were predicting the Rockies to lose 109 games. A starting rotation predicted to be that bad shouldn't shut down anyone.

The reality is, Chacin has shown that he has the stuff to be a legitimate number two starter in the big leagues. When he throws his changeup to right-handers, he is extremely effective. His slider is a very good pitch when he isn't trying to overthrow it and his fastball is above average as well. When he attacks the strike zone, there simply isn't a lineup in baseball that is going to knock him around.

De La Rosa is a different story. Everyone has known for years that he is a talented pitcher. For years he was the "what-if" guy. That meant that people only wondered how good the lefty could be if he corralled his emotions and pitched without being his own worst enemy. Once he arrived in Colorado, of all places, the Rockies got to see a taste of his talent. Almost as quickly as that confident pitcher arrived, he was taken away due to an injured elbow. After Tommy John surgery, and nearly two years removed from the game, it was tough to find anyone who thought De La Rosa would be a factor, let alone dominant.

Once again, De La Rosa has proven his doubters wrong. He has shown that, even with a few miles per hour off of his fastball, he still has the stuff to get outs. He still can dominate and he can be a significant factor in keeping the Rockies in games.

Chacin and De La Rosa have been the most significant part of an improved rotation, but they haven't been the only contributors.

Despite some rough patches, Jeff Francis, newcomer Jon Garland, and Juan Nicasio have each had their fair share of success. Tyler Chatwood has been incredible in three of his four starts.

The reality is, this rotation isn't perfect, but they are far better than anyone expected. Factor in that everyone was figuring that the Rockies lineup would score plenty of runs, but that the rotation would pitch them out of games. A third of the way through the season it is becoming apparent that the rotation is not even historically bad, they aren't even close to the worst team in Major League Baseball. In fact, through Tuesday night, the Rockies have given up less runs than the World Champion San Francisco Giants.

What does it mean? It means that the Rockies are going to win a significantly higher number of games than anyone expected. The experts, if told how the offense would perform on Tuesday, would have said that the Rockies would absolutely have lost this game if they were asked in spring training.

Instead, the starting pitching is good enough to help the Rockies steal a few games when the offense doesn't show up. More importantly, it allows the Rockies to win games that the offense was just average in. Instead of having to have a great night at the plate every time out, the Rockies offense is going to win some games that they are simply average in. They are also going to win games that they are brutal in. What that means is that overall, the Rockies are going to win a significantly higher amount of games than anyone predicted.

If the Rockies can sustain their starting pitching, or even improve it, the Rockies are going to compete. This is a Rockies team that has the talent to make a run. Whether they actually do or not remains to be seen. However, one thing is certain, this team is far more fun to watch than the 2012 version.

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  1. Good article. I agree, the starting pitching has been much better than even I was expecting ( and I'm an optimist all the way). The situational hitting the last week was truly horrible. They should have easily taken 2/3 or all 3 from the giants and should have thumped the Astros. Hopefully this next big home stand will help. They have the potential to be up there at mid season and (perhaps) September and October.

    1. Mike, you are truly an optimist! The Rox are struggling in games with the 2nd worst team in baseball. The Rox bats are silent and Walt Weis is making poor decisions with lineups and relievers.

  2. If the Rockie's lumber is still in a slumber tonight, Wed, they could lose tonight's game. Not likely though with Chatwood on the hill, if the Rox can score at least 3 runs tonight.

  3. NOT!!!! they didn't score enough runs and there pitchers along with there hitters imploded. you are correct WW's decisions are lacking to make the correct moves, and it looks like dante's (hitting coach) importance is to lean on the dugout railing and chew sunflower seeds wearing funny hats. but i'll agree there starting pitchers are doing great the rox have lead in the last 12 games but just can't seem to have the bullpen close games out. better do something quick or the season is over even though they have only played 50 some games.

  4. the only run the rockies will make.........is to the bottom of the division. weak at the corners in the infield, no ace, spotty relief, inexperienced field manager, unfocused owners.

    1. Mr Anonymous,

      Brilliant, none of your comments are even close All teams have a perceived weakness in bullpen due to inherited runners. While not great the relief has been middle of the road at worse. Starting pitching has been outstanding and Nolan and Todd while their bats can be questioned at times their gloves can not. Two of the best in the game in the field.It is always easy in hindsight to question the field manager but Weiss has been middle of the road as well. Even the great ones hit the wrong switch at times. (See Magdon Baker,Showwalter)Roxs are 2-3 games back and it is June. No one would have thought that and WW has a hand in the attitude change on the field. Give him credit where credit is due. The problem is not ownership or Field General. Players play owners own and coaches coach. The glaring weakness is the Roxs put it on cruise control early with a lead and have not come up with timely hits in spots. Not to mention the times where the bats have been stone cold at times and completely disappear for certain games. The problem has been hitting for 9 innings and not just 3-4 innings a night.

    2. each comment made is spot on........you can live in two worlds........the make believe rockie world where all is gonna be just fine..
      or the real world where glaring weakness can not be overcome. even though colorado has some very good players, they are not a good team. not good enough to win the division or participate in post league games.