|Tyler Chatwood has the Rockies contending.|
On Sunday, as the Rockies held on to a 4-3 victory, Chatwood continued his impressive, and frankly, dominate season. He gave up two runs--one earned-- in six innings worth of work. He gave up seven hits in the six frames along with four walks and two strikeouts.
Usually when a pitcher allows 11 base runners in six innings of work, they give up more than one earned run. However, the fact that Chatwood wasn't perfect speaks to how good he has become in such a short period of time.
In the 1st inning, Chatwood gave up back-to-back singles to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. With one out, Alfonso Soriano hit a slow roller to short that moved the runners to second and third base with two outs. Chatwood then walked Nate Schierholz, loading the bases and making things look like they could get ugly for the Rockies early.
The typical young starting pitcher, one who has never been on an Opening Day roster, and one who bounced between the minors and the big leagues in his first two seasons, would often times fold. The situation that Chatwood found himself in would usually result in a big inning. Instead, the Rockies 23-year-old got Cubs outfielder Junior Lake to swing and miss at a 95 MPH fastball.
Chatwood settled in after the 21-pitch 1st inning. He didn't give up a run until Anthony Rizzo led off the 6th with a solo home run. After two singles and an error from Chatwood, Darwin Barney plated the second Cubs run of the day with a sacrifice fly. Chatwood got out of the inning with the inning with the game tied at two, only hoping for his offense to pull through, as his day was done.
Nolan Arenado, mired in a rookie slump, rewarded Chatwood for his efforts on the mound. With two outs and two on, the Rockies third baseman lined a pitch back up the middle and into center field, scoring two runs after Lake launched the throw 20 feet over the plate.
The fact is, despite some early struggles at the plate, and a few extended slumps, there should be no lack of confidence in the type of player that Arenado is going to be at the plate. His .240 batting average doesn't do justice to the type of at-bats he has taken in his first three months in the league. He has shown glimpses of greatness, not only in the field, but at the plate as well. He seems to get big hits when it matters. He doesn't have a lost look at the plate when the pressure is on. He shines in those moments.
With the Rockies still 3-1/2 games out in the National League West, and two of the worst teams in the National League on their way to Denver over the next week, the Rockies are in a situation where they must win. They cannot blow opportunities to gain ground on both the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks in front of them. This homestand is crucial to any chance that the Rockies think they might have to actually take home their first-ever division crown.
In order to stay relevant, to prove that they can be a playoff contending team, they need contributions from their young players. They need guys like Chatwood and Arenado to play above their pay grades and find ways to contribute.
The reality is, both Chatwood and Arenado have given the Rockies far more than anyone could have expected. Without them doing what they have done, this team wouldn't be anywhere near the top of the NL West. The Rockies have received more than they ever could have anticipated from both of those guys, and it is the reason they are winning baseball games.
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