We wake up this morning with the Rockies at .500 in the standings. They are a third place team in the division, and the 8th place team in the National League. The team's ace couldn't last six innings last night, the #2 starting pitcher is out for the season. The opening day starters at third and in center field are in AAA and the opening day starter at second was sent packing altogether.
So why is everything looking so good in purple today?
Well, for starters, Ubaldo Jimenez actually won that game at home last night, despite lasting just five innings, and we can finally say he pitched a game as well at Coors Field in 2011 that matched his worst outing on the road. For another, while the current preferred lineup doesn't look like it did on opening day, it does look really quite good. With Chris Nelson at second, Ty Wigginton at third and a Smith/Cargo/Blackmon outfield, the Rockies are putting together a lineup with eight average or above hitters in 2011 according to both wRC+ and OPS+, that couldn't be said earlier this season.
With Ubaldo at the very least getting back to a mid-rotation level of performance over his last half dozen starts (2-4, but with a 3.35 ERA) the rotation no longer seems to have that gaping hole he had been early in the season. As I said above, the lineup for the time being has no holes. The bullpen may have one depending on what's going on with Matt Lindstrom lately, but is still competitively sound. The squad has won four games in a row. This, combined with a very vulnerable division, is why it feels so good to be so mediocre this morning. The Rockies as a team are finally back on a winning track, and they didn't get buried while off it. We can still do this thing.
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Troy Renck says that Ubaldo's likely the key for the Rockies playoff chances this season. I agree with him. Jimenez, with an ERA+ of 96, is the only current Rockies pitcher below 100 on that scale, which added to the current lineup, means that he's the only below average player seeing regular time on the team right now. That blows me away. This is certainly a playoff capable and worthy team so long as Nelson and Blackmon prove legit.
For ESPN Insiders, Carlos Gonzalez is thriving while batting leadoff. I don't know if it's the lineup switch that's helping him so much as being at home when it's warm and perhaps the great 2011 Lineup Shuffle, as since Blackmon and Nelson have arrived, all of our starters are hitting consistently.
Even a planet as hot as Mercury gets really cold in some places too. Just saying, you know, metaphorically.