The Rockies continued their recent dominance of the Reds last night (they've now won 23 of the last 28 meetings between the clubs), even winning when scoring less than 4 runs (an update below). However, the true test of said dominance will come tonight when the Kevin Millwood Experience is unleashed on southern Ohio.
The 36 year-old Millwood was actually a useful pitcher as recently as 2009, putting up 3.4 rWAR for Texas, though he was only slightly above replacement level last year. With Matt Lindstrom likely heading to the DL, Colorado would love to have Millwood go deep into tonight's game. Having thrown at least 140 innings in every year from 1998-2010, Millwood certainly deserves the innings-eater moniker. Hopefully he still has enough in his tank to help the Rockies.
Scoring (4) Runs is Important Update
While the Rockies might have won with only 3 runs last night, it was only the 14th time in 61 chances that they had done so. That 14-47 mark (.230) has obviously been detrimental to the Rockies (I mean, most teams don't win when scoring 3 or less) -- and it's the high volume of such games that has truly been a disappointment. After all, when scoring 4 or more, Colorado is 41-15, good for a .732 winning %. Furthermore, Colorado is only 7-5 when its pitchers allow 2 runs in a game (and 10-11 when they allow 3). Teams should win the vast majority of games in which their pitchers allow two or three runs, yet Colorado is only a little over .500 (17-16).
In 2010, Colorado had only 66 three runs or less games all year -- this year, Colorado is on pace for 85 three runs or less games. Those extra 19 games equate to a loss of about 9.5 games that would have been wins if the 4 win threshold had been reached (using Colorado's current winning %s for each). That's the difference between third place and the division lead right now for the Rockies.
Of the long list of reasons why this team hasn't been very successful in 2011, scoring runs inefficiently is near the top. Colorado is on pace to score 735 runs this year (4.5 runs per game), yet they have scored 3 or less -- a full run and a half less than their average -- in 52% of those games. In 2010, the Rockies scored 4.75 R/game and scored 3 or less only 41% of the time.
Fun fact: of those 61 times they've scored 3 or less, Colorado has put up exactly 3 runs 31 times (they are 11-20 in those games), their most common run outcome by far (next closest is 1, 2, and 6 with 12 times each). In 2010 the Rockies scored exactly 3 runs in only 15 games all season. Of course, the Giants have managed to go 14-8 this year while scoring exactly 3 runs.
Juan Nicasio Update
Obviously, near the forefront of most Rockies fans' minds is the status of the hospitalized Juan Nicasio. Yesterday's update had Juan talking to his mother and moving around for the second day in a row. Great news on that front, considering the circumstances.
Dexter Fowler added a leg kick to his swing on July 19th, shortly after returning from AAA, and it has paid off in a big way. Since then, Dexter has hit .363 with six triples. Also in that link is a few notes about Jhoulys Chacin's bullpen session -- he had felt some hand inflammation after his most recent start, but he was throwing well yesterday.
Finally, John Sickels of SB Nation's own Minor League Ball reviews his preseason Rockies Top 20 list. Looking at his list, a few prospects have taken big steps forward (Nicasio, Bettis, Wheeler) while others have shown some steady progress (Arenado, Brothers, Blackmon). Unfortunately, a few prospects have stagnated somewhat (Rosario, Friedrich, Weathers) and the blue chipper Matzek (until very recently) has had a lost year.