Rock Mining week 19: pitching leads the way

Greg Fiume

While the Rockies bats have returned to life, it has been the starting pitching that made this last week successful for the Rockies as they won five and lost one.

In the last six games, the Rockies starting pitchers have given up more than two runs twice: three runs by Juan Nicasio in Saturday's 6-4 win over the Pirates and six runs by Jeff Manship in the 7-5 loss against the Padres. The total of 16 runs given up by the starters over the six games gives them a 3.82 ERA for the week.

While the Rockies bats certainly helped by averaging over six runs per game this week and the bullpen gave a strong contribution with a 2.20 ERA, the starters got the job done this week. They are the main reason the team was able to win games when they only scored three and four runs, something that has not been the norm throughout the season.

The pitching success is not due to the starter's dominating the opposing lineups this past week. Other than Jhoulys Chacin's eight inning gem when he struck out six and only allowed one earned run, the Rockies pitchers have had to deal with traffic on the bases and, for the most part, worked themselves out of jams. None more Houdini-like than Juan Nicasio only allowing one run while getting two outs with the bases loaded last night in the third inning. This clutch pitching helped the Rockies only lose one game despite the offense getting more hits than the opposing team only twice this week.

Another contributing factor for the team's pitching success this week was the defense. Seven double plays have eliminated base runners. Meanwhile, the two errors committed by the team, one by Troy Tulowitzki and one by Wilin Rosario, did not lead to runs scored. It is common knowledge but bears repeating: strong starting pitching, good defense, and a little bit of hitting makes for a successful baseball team.

With Tyler Chatwood and Roy Oswalt scheduled to throw bullpen sessions today, the rotation could get even stronger for the last month and a half. While the (Jeff) Manship is the probably the best option with the current injuries, it will be a benefit if even one of the injured starters can return to take his place.

Here are the starting pitchers statistics over the last six games followed by the weekly good, bad, and ugly picks for Rockies baseball.

Name Innings Hits Runs SO BB
Juan Nicasio (2gms) 11.2 10 5 6 6
Chad Bettis 6 4 2 3 2
Jhoulys Chacin 8 5 1 6 2
Jeff Manship 5 8 6 0 2
Jorge De La Rosa 7 8 2 6 1

The Good

While this week has belonged to the young bats of Corey Dickerson (1.500 OPS), Charlie Culberson (1.135), Nolan Arenado (.982), and Charlie Blackmon (.977), it's the hits of Todd Helton that have carried the most weight in terms of Rockies history. As Thomas Harding wrote on mlb.com, Helton's home run last night moved him ahead of Fred McGriff to 97th all time for hits and gave him more home runs than Joe DiMaggio as he moved up to 76th all-time on that list.

The Bad

While the entire bullpen had a great week (with the previously mentioned 2.20 ERA), Rex Brothers had accounted for two of the four runs given up by the relievers and had a ERA and WHIP of 4.50/1.75 for the week. He didn't blow a save and struck out six, so this little bit of regression turned out to not hurt the Rockies. I hope that there is nothing more to it than that, although being used five times in eight days (including three days in a row) may be pushing him a bit.

The Ugly

The Rockies best hitters, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer, went a combined 5 for 32 this week, a .156 average. Tulo may have gotten over his slump, collecting all of his four hits for the week in the last three games while Cuddy is returning from illness and could bounce back quickly. Let's hope so because with Cargo still a week away from swinging a bat, the team will need these two to help the offense produce.

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