Starting Pitching Facts
Jeff Francis hit a milestone last night for the Rockies that you might not have been aware of. Namely, he became the first pitcher this year for the Rockies to throw 100 innings. To put that in perspective, to qualify for the ERA title, a pitcher needs to throw 162 innings. That means that the Rockies' top pitcher by IP is only 62% of the way to qualifying for the ERA title.
Not that he'd win, of course. After all, the ERA of Rockies starting pitchers has improved considerably since the All-Star Break, but it's still at 5.86 right now (5.14 for all Colorado pitchers). Speaking of pitching categories that Rockies starters are last in, Colorado starters have a MLB worst 3.65 BB/9 ratio and are tied for last in HR/9 at 1.46. That and an anemic K/9 ratio leads to a NL-worst K/BB ratio of 1.80 (the Phillies lead MLB with a 3.95 ratio).
I could go on, as Rockies starters have a MLB worst batting average against (.298), BABIP (.330), WHIP (1.64), FIP (5.09), and by almost a full point, tERA (6.43). Obviously, some of this has to do with the permissive offensive environment at Coors Field, but even in park adjusted stats like ERA- Rockies starters are worst in the NL at 130 -- or 30% worse than league average.
All this has occurred while the starters have thrown a league low 700 innings -- the 29th place team has 802 IP out of their starters. It's completely unsurprising then that the starters have a league low 27 quality starts (18% of starts) this season -- the 29th rated team has 56. Quite a bit of this gap is due to the 4 man rotation, but even so the inability of Rockies starters to work efficiently has been pretty horrifying this season.
Relief Pitcher Facts
Did you know that Rex Brothers is short only the ERA component of leading Rockies pitchers in the pitching Triple Crown? His 78 strikeouts in 60 IP leads the team -- 2nd place is Christian Friedrich at 74, 3rd is Adam Ottavino at 73, and 4th is Francis at 70. Brothers' eight wins on the year easily leads Colorado as well, with 2nd being a tie between Friedrich, Ottavino, and Francis.
The win piece is not surprising, as Colorado relievers have more wins than the starters -- relievers are 33-26, starters are 25-63. After all, it's hard to get a win when you average 4.8 innings per start. What is surprising and somewhat stupefying is that Colorado relievers have more strikeouts on the year than Colorado starters (527 - 512) despite more than a hundred fewer IP (589 - 700).
Despite many of the same disadvantages faced by the Colorado starters (e.g. Coors) and many of the disadvantages they didn't face (messes created by Colorado starters, needing to throw 75 more innings than any other relief corps in MLB), Colorado's bullpen managed to put up a respectable 4.29 ERA that given the conditions was solidly around league average (95 ERA-).
In other words, we salute you, Rockies bullpen.
Bonus Pitching Facts
The two most common outcomes in terms of runs allowed this year have been 6 (19 times) and 7 (18). Unsurprisingly, the Rockies have gone 9-28 in those contests, and in fact are 17-68 when allowing 5 runs or more. That's 85 games in which the pitching staff has made it very difficult for the offense to win it. Last season, Colorado allowed 5 or more runs in only 76 games, so this year's squad has smashed that mark with 15 games still to play.
Conversely, when Colorado has allowed 4 runs or less in a game this season, they are 41-21. In other words, as has been noted before, Colorado doesn't need great starting pitching given their run environment -- merely adequate pitching will do.
Speaking of pitching, the Rockies are looking toward a familiar face in Mark Wiley as their new Director of Pitching. If he does get the job, Wiley will be responsible for all aspects of pitching throughout the organization. Good luck and God speed Mr. Wiley.
Troy Renck writes that Colorado doesn't need piggybackers, it needs pitchers who put the team on their back. Specifically, the team needs to do a better job of developing the promising young arms they do have into functional starting pitchers.
One of those functional starting pitchers a year ago was Jorge De La Rosa, who will be making his 2012 debut on Thursday. If De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin are healthy next year, the rotation will be considerably less awful.
Wilin Rosario might lead all NL catchers in homers with 25 (AJ Pierzynski has 26, who knew?), but he also leads them in passed balls with 20. It's just another part of a terrible defensive year for the Rockies, who rank in the bottom tier in all of the advanced defensive metrics.
And finally, Nick Piecoro at Baseball Prospectus writes about the agony of rooting for rationality in baseball. It's a highly recommended read.