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Sunday Rockpile: Scrutinizing the Pitching

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Troy Renck:

Ownership and the front office believe it has put together a team that should be competitive, should contend. That's debatable, particularly when one closely examines the pitching.

I'm focusing on this part, though Renck's article is mostly about the decisions Clint Hurdle has to make in the lineup and bullpen to win and thereby keep his job, but I do want to closely examine the pitching and see where the Rockies really are right now.

I'm just going to use two numbers, the innings pitched by each starter and the value in runs over a replacement each starter has given as a starter. All of this is from FanGraphs. Rather than hashing out the true pitching heirarchies of each team, I'm just going to order these pitchers chronologically.

#1 Starters:

Aaron Cook 25.1 IP, -2.6 RAR

Hiroki Kuroda 5.2 IP, 1.5 RAR

Brandon Webb 4 IP, -2.1 RAR

Jake Peavy  39.1 IP, 6.9 RAR

Tim Lincecum 31.1 IP, 12.0 RAR

The Giants and Padres are getting the most out of their opening day starters, the Rockies are trailing the pack thanks to Cook's underperformance. Injuries to Kuroda and Webb will give Aaron the opportunity to redeem himself somewhat if he turns it around.

#2 Starters:

Ubaldo Jimenez 26 IP, 5.3 RAR

Randy Wolf 36.2 IP, 7.5 RAR

Dan Haren 43 IP, 14.7 RAR

Chris Young 33.2 IP, 6.4 RAR

Randy Johnson 26 IP, 2.0 RAR

Jimenez ranks fourth in the division in value given to the team, but has been showing some positives lately. The Rockies have no chance if he and Cook don't rebound.

#3 Starters

Franklin Morales 8 IP, -0.1 RAR

Chad Billingsley 33.2 IP, 10.6 RAR

Doug Davis 34 IP, 4.6 RAR

Walter Silva 9.2 IP, -2.6 RAR

Matt Cain 32 IP, 1.4 RAR

I didn't get the impression that Morales was that bad in his brief appearances, but apparently he was merely replacement level. That's probably to be expected when you put your #5 guy in the #3 slot, though. The Dodgers, in the meantime, put their #1 in the #3 slot and Billingsley has thrived. Cain's been a relative disappointment thus far. 

#4 Starters

Jason Marquis 35.1 IP, 6.0 RAR

Clayton Kershaw 28 IP, 3.3 RAR

Jon Garland 35 IP, 3.5 RAR

Kevin Correia 21 IP, 0.3 RAR

Barry Zito 22.1 IP, 2.0 RAR

Tracy Ringolsby writes more about Marquis here, it's probably come as a surprise to many that the Rockies have the best in the division in this slot.

#5 Starters

Jorge De La Rosa 22.2 IP, 5.2 RAR

James McDonald 13.1 IP, -3.5 RAR

Yusmeiro Petit 13.2 IP, 0.3 RAR

Shawn Hill 12 IP, 1.3 RAR

Jonathan Sanchez 16.1 IP, 1.0 RAR

Another slot where the Rockies lead the rest of the division, JDLR's only issue is lack of depth to his starts, but as you can tell, he's got the most IP of any fifth starter in the division.

#6 Starters

Jason Hammel 3 IP, -0.9 RAR

Eric Stults 18 IP, 2.5 RAR

Max Scherzer 20.2 IP, 5.5 RAR

Josh Geer 13 IP, 0.2 RAR

Scherzer was/is meant to be Arizona's fifth starter, but Webb's injury pushed Petit into service before Max. A truer comparison would have us evaluate Scherzer with JDLR and Petit with Hammel and this group.

The total value of the NL West teams' starters in reverse order:

Rockies 13.0 RAR

Padres 13.4 RAR

Giants 18.5 RAR

Dodgers 21.8 RAR

Diamondbacks 26.6 RAR

If there is any positive to take from this, it's actually somewhat good news that almost all of the Rockies starting pitching production to date has come from the bottom of the rotation. Jimenez and Cook are likely to turn around and provide value unless they're hiding injuries.

I'll look at the bullpen later in the week, but the assertion that the Rockies pitching is not contention worthy seems true for now (being worse than the Padres? Eww) but with that caveat that it appears we haven't seen what it's capable of when the top of the rotation is clicking.

What's most surprising to me is how much Joe Torre has been able to squeeze out of his starters to date. Randy Wolf needs to come back down to earth for the rest of the division to have a shot, I think.


Ryan Spilborghs credits a more aggressive approach for his big day at the plate yesterday.

Patrick Saunders has a nice write-up about the above the board approach Rolando Fernandez and the Rockies take in their Latin scouting and development.