Sunday Rockpile: Alan Johnson tries to become Rockies next surprising rotation fill-in

No joke, my image search for Alan Johnson instead came up with a horse named Wishful Thinking...

Dave Krieger says that the Rockies best pitching in 2011 is yet to come, as the only starter without a win thus far is this Ubaldo Jimenez guy, who's apparently pretty good. Even better then, must be the two guys that pushed him back from the day he was able to come off the DL (today): Alan Johnson and Esmil Rogers. Today, by the way, marks the one year anniversary of Jimenez's no-hitter against Atlanta.

According to FanGraphs, Ian Stewart has seen the fewest fastballs among Rockies position players, just 48.3% of all pitches seen, while Jonathan Herrera has seen the most at 76.5%. Stewart continues to get fooled and put off balance by off speed stuff, striking out more than 40% of the time he steps to the plate thus far, while it seems opposing pitchers haven't yet developed a working pitch plan for Herrera, preferring to instead just try and blow fastballs past him and avoid the walks he's been so good at collecting. Not far behind Stewart on the lack of fastballs seen list is Jose Lopez, who also has seen the fewest change-ups among Rockies hitters. Pitchers are avoiding the plate by giving him a steady diet of sliders and curves. Until Stewart and/or Lopez adjust or develop better pitch recognition, the Rockies will continue to get minimal levels of production from their third basemen. 

Nestled between Stewart and Lopez in second on the least fastballs seen chart is Carlos Gonzalez, who rested his back and bat yesterday and has been slumping against LHP's this year. As the notes indicate, Todd Helton also got some time off last night. 

Jim Armstrong has more notes, including the interesting tidbit that the Rockies are 9-1 when Lopez starts. I think that's almost entirely coincidental given the degree to which he's struggled this season, and there's certainly little to no reason to put him in front of the red hot Herrera right now at second. Third's another question, though, and it will be interesting to see who breaks their slump first.

Tyler Kepner at the New York Times features Greg Reynolds along with the White Sox's Phillip Humber in a profile of the long strange journey the two former high draft picks have taken to the major leagues.

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