So I promised later in the week, and here we are.
Pitching: a word that used to draw another audible groan from Rockies fans far, far louder than one speedy outmaker could ever hope to.
Pitching: the continuous Achilles heel for the Colorado Rockies, what held them back during years where the Coors Offense was in full swing.
It took awhile to do it, but it seems like we've gotten a good handle on how to pitch at Coors: Keep the ball down, change speed, and throw strikes.
Oh...wait, that's how to be a good pitcher in general. Well, whatever. We figured it out finally.
But much as the Rockies' pitching success has come in the most recent years (thanks in part to the humidor and in part to great farming), there have still been noteworthy pitchers in Colorado's short history that should be mentioned. In this Counting Rocks, we'll look at the top 3 pitchers in Rockies history, ranked by ERA.
Join us after the jump and we'll get rolling.
We'll start with our first pitcher: Marvin Freeman, 1994.
Exclusively a reliever before landing in Colorado, Marvin Freeman was a stud in 1994. He posted the only single-season sub-3 ERA for the Rockies, ever. Along with that sub-3 ERA, Freeman posted a 2.91 K/BB and what was almost more mind-blowing is the 0.8 HR/9. This is in Mile High Stadium, boys and girls. 0.8 HR/9. Masterful.
Now, just calculating FIP from that season, Freeman didn't look nearly that good. His 3.84 FIP wasn't all that impressive, and his .291 BABIP and 80.3% LOB% helped deflate that ERA that full run there. I don't have an xFIP on hand to compare to that, but you can be assured that it's going to be lowed than his FIP, simply because of the HR-friendly environment that Mile High was.
However, there's a bit more of a downside here as well. When tabulating the single-season ERA leaders, I'm not really sure what their IP cutoff is, but Freeman started 18 games in 1994 and only posted a total of 112 2/3 innings in 1994. While his ERA record is still impressive given the number of starts and such, I'd prefer to crown someone who pitched an Ace's workload.
So with a well-deserved hat tip, we will move on from Mr. Freeman.
Our next pitcher is a sentimental favorite of mine, Joe Kennedy.
During the 2004 Campaign, Kennedy made 27 starts and put up a 3.66 ERA in 162 1/3 innings, the best we'd seen from a pitcher with more than 150IP. I cited this number with pride on a regular basis. Something about the guy just clicked for me.
However, Kennedy's season wasn't all it was really it was cracked up to be.
Similar to Freeman, Kennedy was aided by a high LOB%, 79.4%. Also like Freeman, he kept the long ball in check, only allowing 0.94 HR/9. What was different, however, was the .300 BABIP. Batted balls found grass at a completely normal rate.
But past those friendly numbers, Kennedy was downright pedestrian. While he sported a respectable 6.49 K/9, it was somewhat undermined by his 3.71 BB/9, good for a 1.75 K/BB. All of those walks and hits added up to a 1.42 WHIP.
The saddest part about those numbers is that aside from Aaron Cook's 3.63 BB/9, they all put Kennedy as the best pitcher in the rotation.
Still, at age 25, Kennedy looked to be a promising member of our rotation for years to come. Regrettably, 2005 led to Kennedy completely falling off of a cliff and getting traded with Jay Witasick to Oakland for Eric Byrnes and Omar Quintanilla. Crying shame, too, as I wanted to see Kennedy do well and Jay Witasick was pretty awesome coming out of the bullpen. Oh well, at least we got Q, right?
Finally, our real ERA leader, our Ace, and the best pitcher Coors has ever seen: Ubaldo Jimenez, 2009.
3.81 tRA* (3.41 tERA*)
I'll keep this brief. 218IP is ace-level. 8.17 K/9 is pretty close to ace-level. 5.7 WAR put him 12th in the majors. Ace. 3.47 ERA is nearing Ace-level. 3.81 tRA* is top-10 in the majors.
Honestly, I'll leave it there at Ubaldo. We've written, chatted, comment, raved, drooled, and generally loved everything about Ubaldo's 2009 season. It's the best we've seen from a Rockie. He throws hard; he strikes guys out. He gets absurd amounts of groundballs. He's pretty much the perfect pitcher for the Colorado Rockies.
So similar to the Stolen Bases article, the final step is to determine who will be the guy to break this record. Given that he JUST POSTED the ERA, it's kind of hard to say that there's someone coming along who will, unless we just want to say that Ubaldo has the best chance of surpassing his own single-season mark. A knee-jerk response might be to just say "TYLER MATZEK!!!" but that seems a bit bullish, considering the kid hasn't pitched in professional ball yet. Ringolsby sees the kid as behind Ubaldo anyhow. Barring some sort of massive talent increase to Christian Friedrich or Jhoulys Chacin, I get the impression that Ubaldo is the man to keep raising the standard for what being an Ace pitcher for the Colorado Rockies means.
Join us next week as we explore the next 2 single-season marks: Batting Average and Pitching Wins, and hopefully in a civil manner, too!