Man, that Greg Reynolds. Can we start with him? He's just so dreamy. If it's not the 89-mph fastball or the caveman hair, it's the skinny legs and high socks -- or oh yeah, the 2 runs in 6 innings in his first major league start since 2008. Although it'll only be (hopefully) one more start until Ubaldo returns, I know all of us here at the Greg Reynolds Fan Club will be very sad to see him go. But we can always
/realizes auditorium is empty
/tumbleweed rolls by
GOSH YOU GUYSSSSSSS
Sigh. If I am to be prevented from expounding at length on the virtues of the Little Seventh-Choice Spot Starter That Could, I guess I can get around to reviewing the good, the bad, and the ugly from the first full week of Rockies baseball. Take a flying leap.
Aside from Greg Reynolds, there has been plenty of good to be found in the Rockies' first eight games -- if one doesn't count their two losses, both of which have been excruciatingly painful extra-inning affairs, and by one run apiece. One on Opening Day to the D'backs, which was a direct result of Ubaldo's thumb cut costing him both velocity and command (sort of important things to have as a pitcher, especially when you're usually made out of GRADE A AWESOMESAUCE) and one two nights ago to the Pirates, in which all the runs came in the form of a first-inning, three-run bomb by Jason Giambi -- and there was thirteen innings of deafening silence to follow. But as aggravating as both these defeats were, it's important not to overlook the fact -- as pointed out in the Post after the game today -- that while it's good to be 6-2, they very easily could be 8-0. They have been in a position to win ALL of their games thus far, and while Small Sample Size is of course the obvious rejoinder, it does lend some credence to their proclamations that this year, they'd be ready to go at the sound of the starting gun. Today in particular was something we didn't see much of, if at all, last year. It would have been very easy to let the Pirates keep the momentum after they'd scored 5 unanswered runs, shrug and say, "Well, at least we got a split on the road." But instead, they started a two-out rally, let Michael Crotta dig his own grave, squeaked out just enough, and ultimately came out on top. Maybe it wasn't very pretty, but hey, I'll win ugly instead of losing with style every time. Also, I think Ty Wigginton is going to put a hit out on Pedro Alvarez.
What else shouldn't be overlooked? As was also pointed out in the Game Thread today, the Rockies currently have the best ERA in baseball. That is not a misprint. While a few notches might have been added after Chacin's uneven outing today, going into the game the Rox were #1 with a 2.71 team ERA. And that's without a healthy Uball (as a matter of fact, it was his Opening Day turd that contributed to most of that). Not that this is going to get any of the so-called baseball experts to notice, and while I'll take a few more turns through the rotation at least before I drink the Kool-Aid, it could be that our unheralded (by the rest of the baseball world) young arms are prepared to really help carry the load. It will be necessary to see if Esmil Rogers can put together several solid starts in a row, for example, and how Chacin bounces back from his battle today, but those are always the sorts of caveats you have to include early in the season. I know for damn sure I wouldn't want them to be at the bottom of the table, so I'll accept this development quite happily for the moment. Huston Street didn't have nearly as many adventures as usual closing out the game today, which is another trend I hope continues; he'll need to get back to his 2009 groove as fast as possible. For no reason I can quite put my finger on, Matt Lindstrom kind of scares me. Frankie Mo... oh, Frankie Mo. What are we going to do with you? And here ends my deeply scientific and rigorously researched disquisition on the State of the Pitching.
What about the hitting? Well, for a start, the fact that there's been any of it on the road has been pretty awesome. And not just any, but in three of the four games, we scored at least 6 runs. (The only one we didn't is the one we don't talk about.) Chris Iannetta started hot and has gone cold now, which may or may not be attributable to the fact that he has a hairdo that looks like someone gave him a buzz cut in a dark room while drunk. But he was 4-for-10 to open the season, and went 4-for-31 before being demoted last year, so just steering clear of unadulterated suckage would be a win for him. New addition Jose Lopez is officially in the team lead with 7 RBI; his three-run bomb in the first inning today ended more happily than did Giambi's. But the real catalysts thus far have been the guys at the top of the lineup: Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera. Herrera in particular has been walking like OJ Simpson, and added 3 more BBs to his total today. Once CarGo and Tulo get back to their ordinary selves (CarGo sat today after a heinously stupid GIDP on a 3-0 pitch last night, compounded with contamination from the chemical weapon known as Ian Stewart, and Tulo, after going on a brief homer spree, has cooled off dramatically again) and assuming Herrera and Fowler can keep up even a fraction of this pace, there are going to be ribbie opportunities aplenty. In fact, from my privileged viewpoint of April 10th, I'm almost tempted to keep Herrera and Lopez as the everyday 2B and 3B. In my opinion Stewart, at this point, is going to have to earn whatever playing time he gets, and the jobs certainly look like Johnny and Jose's to lose. I was underwhelmed by Herrera in the past, and didn't really think he had anything more to show, but I have been pleasantly surprised. This pace is, of course, unsustainable, but it does give you an underdog to root for. One thing is for sure, I don't really miss Clint Barmes.
Other performers of note are Seth Smith, itching to avenge a subpar 2010 campaign (then again, that could be said of nearly everyone except Ubaldo, Tulo, and CarGo) and who drove in two runs today, including the tiebreaking walk. Ty Wigginton won the game for us last night, and Jason Giambi has played well in spot starts for the Cranky Back of the Toddfather, including driving in the tiebreaking run today with 2 outs and 2 strikes. (Supposedly, Todd says he's good to go, but the Back is a fickle organism and must be handled with care.) Likewise, Ubaldo has made a quick recovery from the thumb injury that doomed him against the D'backs (everyone say it with me: THANK YOU JEEBUS) and is currently scheduled to return -- most appropriately -- on his bobblehead day, April 17th against the Cubs. (Big draw, according to our team site. Who could miss out on the chance to come out to Coors to see "Marlon Byrd and the Chicago Cubs?") That homestand will also feature our first clash with the Midgets. Man, I get irritated just thinking about them.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the way the team is playing thus far. Last year, it took them until June 1st (!!!) to get four games north of .500, and they're already there now. (April Winnars!!!) While being the NL West champions on April 10 is not exactly an accomplishment to write home about, there is truth in the old chestnut that while pennants aren't won in April, they can be lost in them. And I know I don't want to spend May and June trying frantically to dig out of our typical early-season hole, so picking up any wins early can only be a good thing. The team always tends to heat up with the weather, so let's hope it proves so again. Just for my own selfish pleasure, I'd like for them to have just a couple games where they absolutely beat the crap out of their opponent, but steady, unglamorous wins will get the job done just as well.
The Rockies' next test is a four-game set in Citi Field, against those oh-so-lovable Mets. For some reason, they have historically been completely terrible in New York, especially at Shea Stadium. While Shea is gone, its bad hoodoo carried over to Citi Field last year (then again, it carried nearly everywhere that wasn't Coors) and the Rockies haven't played well there in a long, long time. If they can put a thumping on the Metropolitans, or at least get out of there without looking like a JV team, it may be seriously time to start hoping for good things. But then again, we always do. That's what makes us fans.
I myself have been noticing that I've gotten addicted again already. I really didn't have much time to follow the Rockies last summer, but already this year, I'm like, "When's the game?????" I start with the Tourists on Friday, and this year I'll be ushering, which essentially means I'll get paid (peanuts, but hey) to stand and watch the game. Yeaaahhhh. It always makes me realize just how much I can't live without baseball.
One other thing: While nothing has been decided yet, and I don't know what's going to happen with pretty much anything (an annoying state of affairs to say the least) it's just possible that I may be moving back to Denver. This would be weird, as it's been five years since I lived in Colorado, but it's a legit possibility. In which case, there would be a whole lot of games I need to catch up on.
Bring 'em on.