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Rockies 2014 season review: Christian Bergman threw a lot of strikes, allowed a lot of hits

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Let's hear it for D'Artagnan.

Victor Decolongon

Christian Bergman was forced into emergency duty as a starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies well before he was ready. That's nothing against Bergman, who was the best starter at Triple-A Colorado Springs at the time of his promotion. It's just a fact.

One can look at his debut big league season in two different ways. One is that he surrendered 12.4 hits per nine innings (the sixth-worst mark out of any pitcher who started at least 10 games in a season in club history), posted a 5.93 ERA/72 ERA+ and allowed opposing batters to rack up a 140 OPS+. OK, all of that is enough to come to the conclusion that the 26-year-old right-hander wasn't equipped for a jump to the majors.

That said, there's another way to view Bergman's performance. He did exactly what the Rockies have been trying to get their pitchers to do ever since the implementation of Project 5,183: threw strikes. Lots and lots of them.

By the numbers
Christian Bergman, 2014
IP 54⅓
ERA 5.93
FIP 4.74
K/9 5.1
BB/9 1.6
GB% 32.7
BABIP .333
rWAR -0.5

Bergman threw so many strikes -- or, at least, so few balls -- that he set a franchise record for the fewest walks per nine innings allowed in a season by a pitcher who started at least 10 games. Better than Aaron Cook in 2005, Jeff Francis 2012 and, most impressively, Marvin Freeman in 1994. Bergman was all over the strike zone, but looking at overall numbers, that wasn't necessarily a good thing.

Along with 2012 Jeff Francis and 2013 Roy Oswalt, 2014 Bergman is the perfect example of why simply pitching to contact isn't good enough to get it done. Strikes need to have quality, and location has to be better than just "in the zone." But it is encouraging that Bergman refuses to let anything other than the opposing batter be the cause of the damage done against him. That also translated to the minors, where Bergman walked fewer than two hitters per nine.

2014 Grade: C

I took into account expectations, age, big league readiness and performance, and this is what I came up with. It's the only grade that is really in my head when I think of both present-day and future Bergman. He's a pretty decent emergency starter option and could settle into the back of a weak team's rotation without much fanfare.

What to expect in 2015

Depending on what the Rockies do with Brett Anderson and how Jhoulys Chacin's injury progresses, Bergman could very well have a chance to secure the team's fifth-starter spot out of spring training next year. At the very least, the Rockies are giving him an extended look against good competition by sending him to the Arizona Fall League, where Bergman has primarily worked as a reliever thus far.

Bergman doesn't have the stuff or pedigree to be a dominant force at the big league level, but there has to be some value in a guy who has no trouble attacking hitters and is still ultimately learning how to pitch. Hopefully the Rockies can maximize that value in some meaningful role.