With the All Star break ending today, the Rockies own a 40-48 record; eight games below five hundred, sixteen games behind the (MLB best) Giants in the National League West, and seven games out of the Wild Card. But there is some good news accompanying the 3-7 slide in July - the Rockies became sellers.
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And in the next few years, we could be looking at something special. The biggest knock on the Rockies for the life of the franchise has been the lack of competent pitching. Now for the first time since the playoff seasons on 2007 and 2009, the pitching staff finally looks. . . dare I say. . . competitive?
- Jon Gray has shown why his name was atop the prospect charts since being drafted third overall in the 2013 MLB draft. Gray's power arm is missing bats at an increasing rate - he averages 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He has also reduced his walks and hits per innings pitched from his rookie campaign from 1.623 to 1.173. That one less base runner every two innings has reduced traffic and improved his overall performance. Gray's issue this season has been his bad inning; a single inning each game where he struggles to control his pitches. Thankfully, he recovers quickly and minimizes damage.
- Tyler Chatwood has been dominate on the road (1.30 ERA, .183 BAA) and quite the opposite at Coors (5.32 ERA, .299 BAA). Even a slight improvement from Chatwood at home makes him a solid #2 or #3 starter for any major league team, much less a Rockies team that struggles to maintain success on the bump.
- Tyler Anderson was called up in June to fill a rotational hole that Eddie Butler, Chris Rusin, Jordan Lyles, and Christian Bergman had
destroyedemptied (although Rusin was not the issue). All Anderson has done is provide a safety net for the back end of the rotation. In six starts, Anderson owns an ERA of 3.03, 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings, and a WHIP of 1.262; all while averaging nearly 6 innings per start. For an organization that has defined how to tax a bullpen, getting 6 innings consistently out of a start has been a godsend.
- Chad Bettis has pitched phenomenally. His alter ego on social media, Bad Chettis, has not. While the Bettis/Chettis has been a replacement level player (-0.1 WAR), he has not pitched poorly enough to be eliminated from the future of the Rockies rotation.
- More talent is coming, too. Jeff Hoffman, the centerpiece of the Tulo trade, will be a late-season call up with the big league squad. Kyle Freeland pitched well enough in Hartford to earn a promotion to AAAAlbuquerque during this season. German Marquez (2.63 ERA in 17 starts) and Antonio Senzatela (1.82 ERA in 7 starts) are a pair of Venezuelan pitchers currently ripping up AA batters for the Yard Goats. Add in a squad of younger guys (Lambert, Castellani, the recently drafted Pint) and this squad finally has quality depth at its historically weakest position.
|Courtesy of Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel|
The rotation is improving; Boone Logan and Carlos Estevez have provided quality out of the bullpen; the offense ranks in the top five teams in MLB in average, on-base-percentage, and slugging percentage; yet the Rockies' record is only one game improved from last year at this time. One game better than a team that finished with 94 losses and in last place in the National League West. Even with reduced walks and increased strikeouts (the Rockies are middle of the pack in both categories), the pitching staff as a whole still owns the second highest ERA in baseball (5.08), second highest batting average against (.278), and second highest WHIP (1.44). These numbers need to improve if the Rockies plan on being competitive, but we can see the Bridich plan - a shift from the pitch-to-contact era to a new age of power arms, missed bats, and reduced traffic on the base paths. [Seemingly, the inflation of these stats always happens with two outs. Potentially due to their youth and inexperience, Rockies pitchers cannot close out innings. Again the hope is that as the staff garners that experience, their ability to pitch with two outs will improve as well.]
With all the pitching talent on the cusp of breaking into the league, Jeff Bridich and baseball in Colorado might be on the brink of breaking out. Should Bridich convince Dick Monfort to move a few valuable pieces for even more young, talented, pitching depth; optimism will swell at 20th and Blake.
As a Rockies fan, I should know better.
|Courtesy of Westword|