Major League Baseball defines a quality start as "an outing in which the starting pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs". Last year, the current Rockies rotation of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio, Jeff Francis, and Jon Garland combined for exactly nine of them. Much of this was due to injury, and some of it (especially in Francis's case) was a product of the four man rotation Colorado employed last summer. No matter how you slice it though, it's hard not to keep coming back to the fact that the Rockies were opening the year with a group of rotation members who averaged less than two quality starts a piece in 2012.
Enter the 2013 season, and just six games into the marathon, that same quintet already has five quality starts. Say what you want about quality starts - Believe me, I normally try to steer clear of this statistic - But here, it actually provides a good snapshot of what just happened here.
A glance at the schedule also reveals that the upcoming parks (3 @ AT&T, 3 @ Petco) provide a good opportunity for the Rockies rotation to continue this trend for at least another week. In other words, it's entirely possible that this group of pitchers has as many quality starts as they did all of last season by Jackie Robinson Day.
As fun as this first week has been however, I'm not quite ready to start waving the purple pom poms yet. All the Rockies have done so far is beat two teams who have played some pretty awful baseball out of the gate five out of six times. Granted, the general recipe for success in this game is to pound the stuffing out of the bad teams and hold your own against the good ones, but I'm really interested to see how the Rockies react when they run into a team playing good baseball.
They should get this test over the next three days when they visit the San Francisco. In recent times, visiting the Giants has been akin to visiting the toxic waste dump when it comes to the health of this team. The Rockies have posted just a 2-7 record in San Francisco in three of the last four seasons and their offense always forgets to show up.
That's why the rotation's success over this first week should have Rockies fans cautiously optimistic. It doesn't guarantee it's going to continue, but it should give the team a more confidence that they can squeak by in 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 type ballgames - and that's exactly what they are going have to do over the next three games since the offense has failed to score more than three runs in 17 of the last 20 games at AT&T.
Patrick Saunders talks more about the early success of the Rockies rotation, specifically their ability to induce ground balls.
The Rockies were able to win yesterday despite manager Walt Weiss giving Tulowitzki, Rutledge, Helton, and Cuddyer the afternoon off on the same day. This is no longer at the forefront of most minds after a nine run outburst, but there were enough unhappy fans yesterday that Saunders had to make a post explaining the decisions Weiss made prior to yesterday's game. This is a topic to keep an eye on as we hit future Sunday's this season.
The days off for some created an opportunity for others, and Eric Young Jr. took advantage of it going 2-5 out of the lead-off spot while again showing that he now has extra base potential in his bat.
The Rockies demoted 2012 first round pick David Dahl (10th overall) to extended spring training for reportedly missing a 6 am flight from Colorado's spring training facility in Arizona to Asheville. Our own Jeff Aberle has more on that story here.
Only two players have hit more home runs than Dexter Fowler so far this season. His start is very interesting. This is Dex's age 27 season and in many ways he's a similar player to Jacoby Ellsbury - He just hasn't put it all together in one year yet. I note this because of the jump Ellsbury made in his age 27 season (2011) when everything, including the HR power came together. I wouldn't expect anything on that level, but a large breakout of sorts is very possible here.