|De La Rosa has been phenomenal.|
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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