Many pundits have said it before in recent weeks, but Dan Szymborski of ZiPS fame tweeted this earlier today:
Rockies 4-man paired rotation experiment isn't really bad per se - it's just that lousy pitchers are lousy.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) July 3, 2012
All it takes is either the starter or the piggyback starter to struggle to derail the blueprint, and that has been the case more often than not. It works fine when the starting pitcher is effective, and when Jeff Francis is the starter, that tends to be the case. The Rockies have won Jeff Francis' last five starts (since June 15), while going 2-11 in games started by the other six starters in that span.
Francis allowed a two-run home run to Matt Holliday in the first inning, then carefully maneuvered through four shutout innings, never venturing towards the middle of the plate. Tyler Colvin hit his tenth home run of the season to break up Joe Kelly's no-hitter in the third. The home run followed a walk to Jonathan Herrera and error on Yadier Molina throwing to second on Francis' sacrifice bunt attempt.
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Colorado went hitless over the last five innings, but Francis delivered a lead to the bullpen going into the sixth inning, and the A-list bullpen in Josh Roenicke (2.57 ERA), Rex Brothers (3.52), Matt Belisle (1.83) and Rafael Betancourt (3.03) made the one-run lead count.
Baseball is actually fun to watch when it is played well.
Tyler Colvin (+.237): 1-for-3, 3-run HR, BB
Matt Belisle (+.230): 1.1 IP, K. Worked out of 2-on, 2-out inherited jam against Matt Holliday in 7th.
Rafael Betancourt (+.192): 1.0 IP, H, BB, SV.
Carlos Gonzalez (-.082): 1-for-4, K.
Chris Nelson (-.078): 0-for-3, BB, K.
Michael Cuddyer (-.048): 1-for-4, K.
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