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Saturday Rockpile: Dan O'Dowd is bearing golden arms for playoff hunt

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In his morning column, Dave Krieger accurately picks out the key to the Rockies' wild card aspirations:  the pitching staff.  If only the starting pitching gives them a chance to win each night, which is not always an easy task, as Krieger notes: "they had reason to be encouraged that Jason Hammel, their fourth or fifth starter, depending on the state of Jorge De La Rosa at any given moment, kept it close."

If the pitching staff is the key, it's a good thing it has been pretty special this season.  Bob Apodaca muses:

"I said from Day One this potentially could be the best starting rotation I've ever had in my seven years here," Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said.

"I'm sticking by my comments. Potentially, and they're making me out to be a prophet, this is the best complete rotation that the Rockies have ever had."

I'm not sure where the overly worried vibe came from here last night, but last night was a game we were supposed to lose.  We can say all we want about Iannetta, Stewart and/or Atkins finding their stroke and contributing, but for the Rockies to win the wild card, it starts and ends with the rotation giving the bats a chance to win every game, including matchups pitting the back end of our rotation against an All-Star.  So consider last night as having a modicum of success.  We'll face the Giants 12 more times.  There are plenty of chances to push them down the standings, so the sky is not falling.

Speaking of Sky, over at his Beyond the Boxscore blog, Dan Turkenkopf has unveiled his freshest BtB Poor Man's Projected Season Standings.  He projects the Rockies to finish as the wild card with a franchise record 91 wins.  When I saw 91, I had to chuckle given Rox Girl's ascertation in last night's game thread.


Our new setup man

Betancourt Shipped Out for Graham | FanGraphs Baseball
Marc Hulet at Fangraphs evaluates the Rafael Betancourt/Connor Graham swap, and despite writing the entire article from the Indians' point of view, he agrees with most pundits that the trade was smart and fair on both sides.

Missing More than is Called | FanGraphs Baseball
Matthew Carruth made an interesting point last night.  Only four relievers in MLB have induced more swings-and-misses than called strikes.  Betancourt is one of them.

The Venezuelan is saying all the right things, as noted in Patrick Saunders' column this morning:

"I just want to come here and help the Rockies win games... I am really excited to be here."

In the Elias player rankings released this morning, Betancourt slides in comfortably to Type B status, just below the midpoint.  The righty had a strong debut last night, throwing 6 pitches, 5 for strikes, and retiring all three batters he faced.

Jim Armstrong gives kudos to O'Dowd for the trade, I think.


Other Links

Troy Renck details the trade of Matt Holliday St. Louis.  Erik Manning at Fangraphs evaluated the trade and effectively says that Billy Beane fleeced the Cardinals.  Holliday went 4-for-5 with an RBI in his debut, also stealing a base.  He is wearing #15.

Jack Etkin wrote a piece on former 2003 2nd round pick Scott Beerer for the Rocky Mountain Independent.  Beerer intitally tried to reach the majors as a pitcher but quit after having a decent year in High-A Modesto in 2006.  After training to be an EMT while being a bartender and bouncer, Beerer is back, now in Modesto as a DH/OF at the age of 27.  He hit .558/.587/.791 in Tri City to earn the call up but has struggled out in California.

What Russ did not mention in this morning's Rockpile:  The Sky Sox' 19-0 pounding of hte RiverCats was polished off largely due to one Shawn Chacon, who gave up the first nine runs.  The Colorado Springs Gazette speaks to Chacon's freefall.

As noted in Yahoo! Sports' Baseball Today column, today is the 11-year anniversary of Neifi Perez hitting for the cycle.  Also on this date in 1996, Bruce Ruffin became the 25th man to strike out four batters in an inning.  The article is mistaken, however, in claiming Mike Lansing hit for the cycle nine years ago today.  That occurred July 17, 2000.

Also, I'll be interviewed later this morning by Kerel Cooper of On The Black, a Mets video blog.  I'll post the interview or link to it when the Mets series comes around.