Friday, July 26, 2013

Tyler Chatwood continues his impressive season, picks up 7th win for Colorado Rockies

When the Colorado Rockies traded Chris Iannetta to the Los Angeles Angels for Tyler Chatwood, they knew they were getting a talented young arm. They may not have known just how talented he was.

On Friday night at Coors Field, Chatwood added to his breakout season. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits. The most impressive part of his line, however, comes next. Eleven strikeouts to go along with zero walks.

Tyler Chatwood has been a huge surprise for the Rockies
It doesn't matter if Chatwood was facing a Ryan Braun-less Milwaukee Brewers lineup. There wasn't a lineup in baseball that would have done well against Chatwood on this night. His slider was working well, his fastball was humming, and filling up the strike zone.

When outfielders stand around looking bored, it usually means the starting pitcher is doing well. Chatwood recording 11 strikeouts is impressive enough, but the other eight outs were all recorded on the infield. Not a single fly ball out came in his seven innings of work.

He was so good, the Rockies actually allowed him to head back to the mound in the 7th inning with 95 pitches already recorded. Normally, with the Rockies high-altitude-leads-to-injury theory, if a pitcher is going to eclipse 100 pitches in the next inning, the manager simply calls for the bullpen before the frame starts. Not on Friday, Chatwood was allowed to go out and make the Brewers look silly for one additional inning.

Not everyone may agree with all of the Rockies pitching theories. However, one thing that no one will disagree with is that the key to success while pitching at Coors Field, or any other hitter-friendly park, is to keep the ball on the ground. It doesn't matter if the ball travels further when the trajectory of the ball is straight into the ground. Chatwood has become a master of that type of pitching.

The Rockies suddenly have three starting pitchers who might be the best three they have ever had. Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood all own ERA's below 3.60. Two of which, De La Rosa and Chatwood, are under 3.00. Who would have ever thought the Rockies could pull that off in Colorado, let alone in the 2013 season, when experts suggested that the starting rotation would be the worst ever.

On Friday, the offense finally broke out of a month-long slump, putting eight runs on the board. The scoring was a relief to Rockies fans, but it also was aggravating. If this offense could have even put up half of that run total a few more times, they would have six more wins. The lack of run production has been explainable.

The game on Friday night was an example of what the Rockies could be on a consistent basis if they would take good at-bats. No team is ever going to put up eight runs consistently, but this team has the firepower to do much better than they have been doing. This is a team that has had three pitchers emerge to frankly be three of the best pitchers in all of baseball in the past six weeks.

Between De La Rosa, Chacin and Chatwood, the Rockies have better than a chance to win three out of every five games. There is no reason to think that they shouldn't win two of three every time through those three pitchers.

This Rockies team is hanging on by a thread. The reality is that the Dodgers are starting to run away with the division. If Colorado wants to stick around in the race, they are going to have to hit the ball the way that they did on Friday night consistently. They are going to have to continue to get the pitching that they have been getting over the past two months, and they are going to have to start taking better at-bats and finding ways to score runs.

Despite a disappointing July overall for the Rockies, there are a few positives to build on. One of those positives has to be Tyler Chatwood. His early success could have been written off as a small sample size. However he has continued to dominate. He has continued to get better and show that nothing he has accomplished in 2013 was a fluke. Chatwood is turning into a very good pitcher.

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