After a sweep by the hated Atlanta Braves, many Rockies fans are pretty pissed off with the way a lot of the season has gone. The bats have been inconsistent, the bullpen overworked, and the rotation horrible at best. Normally, this is where I would start tweeting something about Jim Tracy being awful or what have you, but the thing is, I can't do that this time around.
If we're going to pin the problems of 2012 on any one entity, I'll put the blame where blame is deserved: The rotation is simply not pulling its weight. This isn't exactly news to anyone, either.
Try this on for size: Through Sunday's sweep, the Rockies bullpen has pitched 96 innings. That's the 2nd highest inning load in MLB to the Royals. Through those 96 innings, the bullpen has sported a 4.30 ERA. When you consider the workload, that isn't that awful. In fact, Fangraphs WAR has the Rockies' pen as the 4th most valuable in the majors, at 1.5 fWAR. Baseball Reference's WAR isn't so kind, at merely 0.8 WAR, but there might be some rounding errors there or something. Those workload numbers shouldn't be so high this early in the season.
Here are some other fun numbers: excluding Sunday, Rockies starters were 3rd worst in MLB in walks-per-nine-innings, 6th worst in strikeouts-per-9, and 2nd worst in HR/9. Drew Pomeranz and Jhoulys Chacin are the worst offenders at gifting the free pass, both walking over 5 batters per 9 innings. Jeremy Guthrie has struck out half as many batters as he has walked - and a 3.70 BB/9, while bad, isn't end of the world bad. The only pitcher in the Rockies rotation who hasn't allowed over 1.30 HR/9 is Pomeranz, whose 0.90 HR/9 has helped him be the 2nd best pitcher on staff in terms of ERA, FIP, and xFIP.
Here's the worse news now: We're going to have to grit our teeth and bear most of this. We need to be patient with guys like Pomeranz and Juan Nicasio as they continue to grow into consistent MLB caliber pitchers. This isn't a surprise, either. The offseason "Acquire ALL the Young Arms!" theme was going to involve giving the young arms the rotation slots. This in turn involves a lot of crappy pitching performances while they learn.
The part that's been the most confusing is whether the Rockies expected to compete with such a generally mediocre/young rotation, or if they planned on it being a build year. After all was said and done, the Rockies assembled a corps of position players that would be good enough to swing in the NL West for a season in the event the pitching came through unexpectedly well.
Pomeranz and Nicasio need to stay in rotation so they can learn. Guthrie needs to stay in the rotation to reestablish value (seriously - he is NOT this bad). Moyer needs to stay in the rotation because he's kind of the best pitcher by ERA right now - I guess. The next spot should go to Alex White or Christian Friedrich, provided they're ready. Should neither be ready (nor Tyler Chatwood), then Carlos Torres can make a spot start or two until they are. Once the trade deadline rolls around, we can reevaluate where the Rockies are with Moyer and Guthrie, depending how far out the team is.
The fact that we're even talking about this further pushes to the "rebuild unless lightning strikes and magic happens" concept.
The bullpen, despite my praises above, has hit some sore points, but FIP and xFIP love them still, so there's still hope that these past few blowups have just been a pothole in the road. Josh Outman may be able to help some of these issues.
The long and short of most of this season is that the rotation needs to get better, and fast. They need to give more than 5 innings. We can't have the entire starting 5 getting yanked 1 batter into the 6th inning. It's asking too much of the bullpen.
Chipper Jones goes after Rockies' Jamie Moyer with sign-stealing at issue - The Denver Post
Oh for crying out loud.
1. Cheating is as old as sports itself. Shut up, Jamie.
2. Getting caught and called out for cheating is as old as cheating itself. Shut up, Chipper.
"I didn't see any signs on the 900-foot homers that were hit." - Chipper Jones
Consummate professional right there, folks.