Wednesday Rockpile: Wake Me Up When September Ends

DENVER, CO - JUNE 10: Christian Friedrich #53 of the Colorado Rockies hangs his head in the dugout after giving up nine runs on ten hits with three walks in four innings during a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Coors Field on June 10, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Angels defeated the Rockies 10-8. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

I really didn't want to write about the Rockies' terrible rotation again, but the rotation in on pace to have the worst ERA in MLB history (6.27) while getting less than 16 outs per start. The only pitcher to have started a game for the Rockies that has an ERA below 5 this year is Drew Pomeranz, and he's mired in AAA finding himself. Oakland have the worst batting average in the league and they just beat Colorado 8-5 to give the Rockies their 6th straight loss.

As Patrick Saunders notes in the linked story, the Rockies are 0-7 in Interleague play, with all of the losses coming at home. During those 7 games, they've been outscored 56-27. In case you failed arithmetic, that's 8 runs per game allowed so far in interleague play! I've said before that scoring 4 runs is important, but that doesn't seem to matter much when your pitching staff is allowing double that.

To wit, Colorado has scored 4 or more in 38 games this year (on pace for 103 times this year), but has only gone 22-16 (.579) in those games. Last year, the Rockies only scored 4 or more in 81 games, but they went 58-23 (.716) in those games. In other words, if Colorado even had last year's pitching staff (which was decidedly below average), they'd be 5 games better in 4+ run games alone. Looking at the scoring distribution for Colorado this year, you'll notice that the most common game result is that the Rockies allow 7 runs. Last year it was 4 runs.

And this has occurred even as the bullpen has been great. Despite pitching the 2nd most innings in MLB (1st in the NL), the bullpen has managed to be a strength for this team. As the innings pile up though, don't expect this trend to continue. There's only so much that they can do. Similarly, the offense is pulling their weight. Say what you will about Coors (I'll get to that in a moment), but they have provided 5.1 runs per game, more than enough to win with even a below average rotation.

Coors Field More Potent This Year?

There were two articles in the last couple of days about the effect of Coors Field on the pitching staff. Troy Renck of the Denver Post remarked on the fact that opponent pitchers are even worse at Coors than the Rockies are. Ken Rosenthal wonders what the heck is going on with Coors. I'm of a mind that there are 3 main reasons for this offensive explosion at Coors this year:

1. The pitching really is bad. Colorado has a 5.75 ERA at home and a 4.69 ERA on the road. The latter number, while much better than the former, is still pretty poor. It would rank 28th in the league, in fact. This team's pitching really stinks, home park or not.

2. The pitchers are new to Coors Field. Coors can be a cruel mistress to anyone, but it's especially painful for those who aren't used to pitching there. This is a partial explanation for opposing pitchers performing so poorly this year (and every year). Mistakes are punished in Coors more than in any other park in MLB. The only pitcher on the Rockies' staff coming into 2012 with any meaningful experience pitching in the park was Jhoulys Chacin, and he was injured.

3. The air is really dry. Ah yes, the meteorologist excuse. I'm no weather expert, but this has been a particularly dry year for Colorado -- unfortunately for my hometown of Fort Collins. If you buy into the science (the jury's still out) that dry air makes the ball fly farther, then the climate this season has certainly exacerbated problems 1 and 2.

Rockies Pitchers In The News

There was a ray of sunshine in a sea of dark clouds -- the Rockies' terrible pitching might have gotten better by default yesterday, as the team traded human torch Esmil Rogers to Cleveland for cash. One of my hopes this off-season was that Rogers wouldn't pitch another game in a Rockies uniform, but I guess a trade for cash midway through a lost season will have to do.

Ian Miller of Baseball Prospectus writes about the less than triumphant return of Jeff Francis, contrasting that to the Ryan Vogelsong Experience the Giants have been enjoying for a year and a half now.

Off-Topic.

Other Rockies Links

Troy Tulowitzki is scheduled to start his rehab assignment on Wedensday. Tulo is still the leading vote getter at shortstop for NL All-Star balloting, but his margin is only 17k votes. Carlos Gonzalez moved up to 10th in voting (from 14th) but he's not going to get voted in by fans. Tulo is our best bet to have a Rockie starting the game.

Tyler Colvin is smoking hot of late, going 7-10 with 4 hrs in the last few games. This has forced him (deservedly) into the Rockies lineup. Unfortunately, this is coming at the expense of Dexter Fowler, who went thermonuclear just two weeks ago. Dex needs to be playing every day at this point -- he has a 144 wRC+ for Pete's sake! Shall we let the Michael Cuddyer Second Base Experience begin? I mean, the pitching is going to be terrible either way, right?

Jim Bowden at ESPN writes about players who could/should be available at the trade deadline. Of the 3 players listed, Rafael Betancourt is the most likely to be traded, but I wouldn't bet on it.

The Rockies have signed 3 high draft picks in recent days, including their top two selections in OF David Dahl and RHP Eddie Butler.

Nathaniel Stoltz at Beyond the Boxscore has a list of minor leaguers who have never been highly touted prospects that deserve a chance in the big leagues. Rockies prospects Rob Scahill and Matt McBride are listed as potential MLB contributors here. Stay tuned Friday for the first installment of the Spring 2012 PuRPs list to see if either of these players made it.

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