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Starting the Engines

Despite losing two of three, I have to say that I was thrilled by certain aspects of our trip to San Diego. Aspect number one revolves around the starting pitching:

NL Team ERA leaders (as starters):

  1. NY Mets 1.41
  2. AZ Diamondbacks 2.20
  3. Colorado Rockies 2.63
  4. Houston Astros 2.68
  5. St Louis Cardinals 3.41
That's just the start, however, because ERA can be a very empty and misleading statistic. Let's look at some peripherals to see how sustainable this is.

K/BB Ratio of top five:

Mets  22/12
D-backs 37/21
Rockies 28/7
Astros 24/8
Cards 27/11

That ratio is second in the NL to only Cincinnati at this point, and it's a 180 degree turn from what we've had in the past. I'm thrilled by this development.

OBP Allowed:

  1. Mets .264
  2. 'Stros .269
  3. Brewers .273
  4. Cubs .283
  5. Rockies .290
If you don't let people on base, they aren't going to score on you. The Diamondbacks have been letting runners aboard at an astonishing .344 clip, which will come back and bite them as soon as they start playing legit competition again. I can guarantee that the Rockies will win the division if they can continue with that .290 pace. They won't, it will go up some, we just hope not much.

Pitches per plate appearance:

  1. Colorado 3.38
  2. Houston 3.53
  3. Cubs/Nats 3.6
  4. Pittsburgh 3.65
This stat can be misleading also -as the Nationals' appearance indicates- and it should be looked at after everything else. If you've established that you've got a bad staff, it means it's not taking long for opponents to key in on your pitchers' stuff, and you need new pitchers. If your pitchers are putting up otherwise solid numbers, it means that as the season wears on, they won't wear down. By point of comparison look at Arizona again, registering a 3.83. Given how many baserunners they've been allowing, it means they're going to be throwing 17 pitches per frame. Colorado's just under 14 pitches.

Three pitches might not seem like a lot but add it over the course of a six inning start, and then over a 32 start season and you start to see that the extra wear amounts to an additional 576 pitches, or five starts' worth. It's a huge advantage for the Rockies if this trend continues.   The sample's still way too small to assume that the trend will continue without looking foolish, but given the strength of opponents this past weekend, it's at least a little more promising for our team than others.