I have seen roughly about half the Rockies games to date. So I do qualify myself on a limited sample. In addition about 25% of those games have been in person which is a far better indicator of things than watching on TV.
Some observations on the pitching woes of this team:
1. They do not throw enough strikes. I see a staff consumed with lack of confidence. Their splits B/S are not good. This is usually an indicator of lack of confidence in their secondary stuff, an inability to command pitches, and a lack of mound mystique. In the Rockies case I see all three. The other crucial aspect of this is:
2. Location of stikes thrown. Pitching is an art that requires the ability to move inside/out, up and down, and change speeds. All of this while being able to locate in specific situations. The most crucial pitch is strike one. Their ability to place a quality pitch on this sequence is horrible. Seems to be either to fat or way too wild. If way too wild it sets them up for a couple of things:
a. The inability to get the borderline pitches later in the count.
b. This leads to frustration and a grooving of a pitch later in the count. We all know the results here.
3. I watched a couple of games in person earlier this week. Outman simply had no command, mound mystique, or ability to locate any pitch. His stuff is good but this is completely useless if you have none of the three elements listed above. Chadwick has real quality stuff and had command for the most part but he failed in his ability to properly locate his strikes. There are basically two kinds of strikes. Quality ones that result in a jam job, a foul ball, or a routine fly or grounder. Or fat ones that get destroyed. I was impressed with Ottovino but he simply ran into an inning when his defense destroyed him. Betancourt has lost confidence and his mojo. I think he should be dealt if the right offer presents itself. A change of scenery, much like that for Street, would do him good.
4. Our staff observed the Rockies staff with interested observation. Mainly as they are on pace to become the worst pitching staff statistically in baseball history. Our general consensus is that it is very young, rushed, and has not learned to locate strikes, develop a mound mystique, or command when necessary. They do at times but the consistency in this area is not up to MLB standards. The issue is not that they can do this. The issue is they have not learned HOW to do this. They have velocity splits on stretch vs windup and they have command spilts in this situation as well. It seems they have not learned to properly understand that the guy facing them will fail 70-75% of the time if they simply focus approach. I firmly believe that elements of Coors Field hangovers are affecting their ability to properly sequence their deliveries. I watched them last night at Nats park and Pomeranz clearly received some quality instruction on his demotion. He illustrated all three aspacts, had quality stuff. I felt when he came up last year and early this year he paid too much attention to the radar gun. These guys get traded in high profile situations and the expectations go thru the roof. You hear Frazier or Tracy say they have a 5 fastball, a 5 slider etc and they get consumed with how fast they throw them. This is not the focus point. The focus point is where and when. I think Alex White suffered some of this as well. I think Pomeranz has settle into his comfort zone. I expect him to have success now that he is focusing on the where and what and less on the speed and velocity. Hopefully White will get the same treatment.
5. I have stated that Coors Field does a play a large role in the Rockies performance. The major issue from a pitching standpoint is that pitches that are easy outs in every other park can end up being bleed doubles and gap triples there. I think this plays into the psychique of a young arm (often even a veteran such as Guthrie, Kile, Hampton, etc. depending on their reportire) and this has a road carryover. In the past the Rockies tried to up the aggressive level of their road pitching methodology by having their pitchers challenge more and nibble more at home. This did not work. I do not think they are doing this now, the issue now is simply lack of experience at this level. This levels spearates the men from the boys. You have quality hitters in every slot and they destroy mistakes. The great ones can also destroy great pitches, those guys are few and far between. Most teams have one or maybe two. They typically have plaques in upstate NY.
6. One of the elememts we noticied as well that plays into this is that the Rockies are starting a rookie catcher that made a two step jump. Rosario has exceeded my expectations from an offensive perspective. However, he has been below average in receiving. His targets and locations are assisting in some of the pitching woes. The Rockies call most pitches from the bench, but where and how the receiver receives the ball are also a benefit to the staff. His receivership has been erratic. His hand position when receiving is also sometimes the difference on borderline pitches. He needs to make improvements. This guy with experience will get better and you will see it in the pitching performance over time. But it is a factor in the performance of this staff currently. I think he can be at an almost Yady/Ruiz level when all is said and done.
7. Lastly this staff is burdened by an inability to get their secondary pitches over. I believe the signing of Francis was a real help here. Although he is not what he once was. He has mound mystique and can set an example for the younger guys because he has no fear of throwing secondary pitches for strikes in critical counts, He also illustrate the finesse factor that these younger guys sorely need. I think this was a real good sign that you will see the end results in a dividend much later.