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Wednesday Rockpile: Rockies Striving for Mediocrity?

Well, the Rockies once again, for the 11th time in 12 games, left Wrigley Field winless and again dipped a game under .500. For those who were concerned, catcher Miguel Olivo, who left the game in the seventh inning after an awkward slide, says he's just fine. The positive we can take away from the game last night is that Todd Helton can in fact still hit home runs, getting two extra base hits. Now if only Troy Tulowitzki would follow suit, the Rockies would be great.

Within that last article, it is indicated that Jorge De La Rosa is throwing pain free (albeit with his fingers taped) and intends to return sometime in June, while Franklin Morales should begin a rehab assignment soon as well. Greg Smith will likely be sent down after his start on today due to his subsequent lack of bullpen availability. Look for Edgmer Escalona to replace him and finally become a major leaguer, if nothing else because of convenience (he's already on the 40 man roster). Matt Daley can't do it because he hasn't been down on the farm for 10 days yet after his demotion.

And now, for a digression:

So we're 39 games in and the Rockies are still scuffling. This chart by fellow staff member Andrew T. Fisher illustrates how consistently average the Rockies have been this year in terms of record relative to the .500 mark.



Yes, that's right. The Rockies have yet to deviate even three games from .500 in either direction after 39 games. At least they are consistent at something. Baseball Prospectus has the Rockies as a 22-17 team in terms of 3rd order wins given their performance thus far (so does Pythagoras), placing their PECOTA playoff odds at a mere 23%. Also at Baseball Prospectus, Tommy Bennett writes about the surprising starts of the Padres and Reds.

Considering that I'm not much of a believer in the Padres or Giants, I think the Rockies' chances are higher that that. Yes, the Giants and Padres have played as well as their records would indicate so far, but San Francisco's hitting (14th in MLB in wOBA) and fielding (best in MLB by UZR/150 with 13) is more than a little unsustainable -- with the bodies they put out there, I'd expect both ratings to drop, and soon. By the same token, the Padres have the second best fielding in MLB by UZR/150 and have pitched out of their minds (also ranking second in MLB in terms of FIP).

As I wrote two weeks ago, I felt (and still do feel) that the Dodgers presented the greatest challenge to the Rockies -- and their recent hot streak has proven my point to an extent. Despite their purported pitching woes, the Dodgers have a staff FIP that is slightly better than the Rockies (see SD link above) though overall their pitching has been much less valuable (Rockies second in MLB with 6.4 pitching WAR).

So what am I trying to say here? Basically, what I said two weeks ago -- that the Rockies in the long term still have a great shot to win the West and that, all things considered, they have played pretty darn well so far this year. I mean, the team has been in almost every game this year, and that's with only one home run from the clean-up position and zero from the number three hole. Both are of course last in MLB. With their pitching health improving, Colorado could really turn on the jets soon. It Tulowitzki and Helton return to their slugging ways (and if Chris Iannetta returns to the team soon after clubbing AAA into submission), the team will be fine offensively as well.

Keep the faith, Rockies fans. It will be rewarded.