Analysis

So, you think the Rockies pitching stinks? That’s a seriously bad take



Young righty Marquez emerging as a possible ace-caliber starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies. (Ian D’Andrea)

I saw it posted as a response today to our latest podcast posting at the Phillies Nation feed on Twitter:

Lose to lowly rocks pitching again boooooooooooo

Now, I’m not going to point out the individual or account name who posted it. If you want to go hunt and peck, feel free to do so for yourself.

And I am fully aware that two things are likely in play here. First, some fans just don’t know what they are talking about. Second, Philly sports fans are passionate and often ride an emotional roller coaster from game to game.

However, it is important to any Phillies fan who cares about actual facts to understand that this ain’t your father’s, or even your big brother’s, Colorado Rockies starting pitching rotation.

The pitcher who shut the Phillies down last night was 25-year-old left-hander Kyle Freeland. He finished seventh in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting back in 2017 after winning 11 games. The southpaw followed that up last year by finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting after a season in which he won 17 games with a 2.85 ERA and 173 strikeouts.

On Friday night the Rockies will send a 24-year-old righty from Venezuela, German Marquez, to the mound. In his last start, Marquez tossed a complete game one-hit shutout at the San Francisco Giants in which he struck out nine while walking no one.

As Corey Seidman pointed out today, opponents have simply been unable to hit the off-speed offering of Marquez, who also comes at you with an electric fastball.

On Saturday it will be another 24-year-old from Venezuela, Antonio Senzatela, who manager Bud Black sends to the mound. In his lone appearance thus far, the right-hander went 6.2 innings against Manny Machado and the rejuvenated Padres in San Diego. He surrendered just one run on six hits while walking just one batter in gaining the victory.

After that performance, Black was quoted by Kyle Newman of The Denver Post: “The fastball had some life to it and beat some bats throughout the game, and he threw some really good, low fastballs on the corner and just off. His misses were really good.

The Phillies will then be seeing 27-year-old Jon Gray on Easter Sunday. Gray was Colorado’s first round pick at third overall in the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Oklahoma. He has made 93 starts since debuting in August of 2015 and is the Rockies most experienced starter. This year, Gray has allowed just 21 hits over 26.1 innings with a 25/9 K:BB ratio.

None of this even includes 29-year-old lefty Tyler Anderson, currently on the Injured List while rehabbing a sore knee. Anderson struck out 164 batters while tossing 176 innings over 32 starts a year ago while gaining postseason experience with an effective start in Game Two of the NLDS against Milwaukee.

Jack Etkin at Forbes did a nice piece as the season was preparing to open on the fact that the Rockies rotation is not only young and talented, but also extremely inexpensive, summing it up in this manner: “…for this season, the Rockies will have the luxury of an inexpensive rotation that if healthy is very capable of steering the team into the postseason.

Aaron Cook has started more games on the mound than any pitcher in Rockies history. (Onetwo1)

Here is how bad the Rockies starting pitching options have been historically. Their all-time leader in both wins and strikeouts? Jorge De La Rosa with 86 wins and 985 K’s sits at the top of their franchise leader boards in both categories. Aaron Cook started on the mound for Colorado a club-record 206 times.

Given health, this group of starting pitchers is extremely likely to see at least one, and possibly two or three, of the arms surpass those totals to become the best starting pitchers to ever wear a Rockies uniform.

The bullpen has also given the Rockies some solid performances here in the early going of the 2019 campaign. Closer Wade Davis has yet to allow a run and has yielded just two hits while walking none over his first 5.1 innings.

Right-handers Bryan Shaw and Scott Oberg and lefties Mike Dunn and Harrison Musgrave have combined to surrender just 15 hits over 30.1 innings while allowing just seven earned runs.

The entire Rockies pitching staff has collectively surrendered fewer hits than innings pitched (151 over 175.1) while ranking sixth in the NL in ERA. The nine Quality Starts made by the Colorado rotation is tied for second in the National League.

Bottom line is that fans of the Phillies or any other team in Major League Baseball should stop assuming that their club is going to waltz into Coors Field and put up big numbers. The Rockies now have a legitimate pitching staff, perhaps the best in the history of the organization.

 

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