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The 2014 Rockies are having a forgettable September to remember

Very quietly, the Rockies are closing out the season with the most encouraging run of September baseball we've seen in years. It's just too bad nobody's stopped clamoring for somebody in the front office to be fired long enough to notice.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Their playoff aspirations have been dead for months. The majority of the fan base has long since disengaged. The topic of conversation centers more around the front office than on the field, and many long time supporters believe the Rockies are broken beyond repair as they finish up their fourth consecutive season of meaningless "play out the string" baseball in both August and September.

In short, the narrative surrounding this team stinks! Understandably, change is being demanded.

Funny thing though ... Change may already be underway - And it's occurring in the place most of the loudest critics don't want to believe is possible until a radical shakeup in management is implemented: On the field.

* * * * *

The mild turnaround the Rockies have made late this season is like a small stream; easily ignored by most, and tough to pinpoint in its origins. But for anyone who chooses to look directly at it, its existence is undeniable. What started as a trickle of hope, is now is now a steady flow of things to look forward to next season.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the run differentials around baseball this month through Wednesday's action. You're likely in for a surprise.

1) Orioles: +37

2) Pirates: + 35

3) Rockies: +33

4) Dodgers: +32

5) Angels: +30

5) Tigers: +30

7) Blue Jays: +28

8) Nationals: +25

9) Cardinals: +24

10) Mets: +20

11) Astros: +4

12) Royals: +3

13) Rangers: +2

14) Marlins: -1

15) A's: -1

16) Phillies: -2

17) Yankees: -3

18) Indians: -13

18) Padres: -13

20) Rays: -14

21) White Sox: -15

22) Brewers: -16

23) Giants: -18

24) Red Sox: -20

25) Mariners: -23

26) Twins: -24

27) D'Backs: -30

28) Cubs: -32

29) Reds: -33

30) Braves: -43

Maybe the sample size isn't huge here, but it's big enough for the six division leaders and the other team closest to leading its division (Pirates) to all end up on the top nine of the board. The other teams in the top ten also make sense. There's Toronto who's just outside of the playoff cut line in the American League, and the Mets who many think are trending upward and in position to make a leap in the standings in 2015.

No matter how you slice this, it appears as though the Rockies are being overlooked as we head towards the season's finish line. I don't know if people are lazy, indifferent because of four straight losing campaigns, or unwilling to beat the drum about this because it doesn't fit the narrative of wanting somebody fired before yesterday, but this stretch of baseball from the Rockies shouldn't be completely ignored, because you don't get to that +33 number unless several pieces to the puzzle are starting to fit together.

Some of this success is undoubtedly due to the blowout games the club has played at home this month, but a closer inspection also reveals that the pitching is improving as well. So far this September, the Rockies have allowed 3.95 runs a game, and while that may not sound like a huge accomplishment, it is for a pitching staff that plays half its games at Coors Field when the league averages 4.07 runs a game. In fact, the 3.95 runs a game the Rockies have allowed this month is the fewest any Rockies team has allowed in any month since April of 2011. This is particularly exciting because that was just before the Ubaldo Jimenez / Jorge De La Rosa / Jhoulys Chacin implosion that sparked the seemingly never ending downward spiral the franchise has been in since. In other words, it's the first time we've seen a month from the pitching staff showing signals this strong of emerging out the other side of that.

Also encouraging is the fact that the solid run differential does't immediately fall apart when you backtrack out of September. Surprisingly, you can revert all the way back to July 22nd - Some 58 games ago (29 at home and 29 on the road) - and still find the Rockies at a +12 run differential over that stretch. A stretch where they've been without Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, and now Nolan Arenado the last week as Cuddyer's come back. All of these things are signs of a club starting to generate production from areas it's been lacking for years.

The goods are coming from the right places too. Jorge De La Rosa is finishing up a very strong season and is now under contract through 2016. Tyler Matzek continues to get better. Jordan Lyles has suddenly turned in five consecutive starts of at least six innings pitched; four of which saw him allow three earned runs or less. Eddie Butler twirled a nice start last weekend in only his second ever big league mound appearance, and several interesting candidates are finally positioning themselves for possible bullpen roles next season.

The Rockies were completely derailed at the beginning of the summer by quite possibly the worst run of injuries I've ever seen on any team, and it destroyed their pitching staff to the point where it was impossible for them to field a competitive team for a while.

During a particularly rough 46 game stretch from May 25th through July 13th (the All Star Break), the Rockies were giving up an average of 6.42 runs a game (Higher than the worst pitching pre humidor Rockies team ever posted during a full season). Not surprisingly, they went a dreadful 13-33 during that stretch.

This is when the club was still adjusting to life without Tyler Chatwood, waiting for Brett Anderson to come back from his first injury, watching what we now know was a still injured Chacin get bombed in almost every start, enduring Jordan Lyles' broken wrist, unable to call up Dan Winker because he needed Tommy John surgery, and of course before Tyler Matzek showed signs of really blossoming at the major league level like he is doing now.

Obviously their rotation hasn't completely recovered from that mess, but once the Rockies got their ducks in a row to some degree, important pieces started to show signs of life. Opponents have seen their OPS against Rockies' pitching drop dramatically for three consecutive months, and the 2.63 strike out to walk ratio the staff has posted so far this September is the best in any month this team has seen since 2010.

It's all being done under the radar and behind the disgust of four consecutive atrocious seasons, but this season is finishing on a note far different than any we've seen in recent memory.

The 2010 Rockies finished on their now infamous 1-13 slide to close out a year that carried playoff hopes until the last week of the season. The 2011 Rockies closed out a disappointing campaign with a 9-16 September. The 2012 and 2013 Rockies posted 11-21 and 10-15 records respectively in September / October with -33 and -38 run differentials to go along with them.

We're not seeing anything like that now. The 2014 Rockies are actually closing out the year in somewhat respectable fashion (even with the more absurd than normal home / road split thing they have going on).

All of this doesn't mean the front office should be let off the hook for the last four years (far from it), but with three young major impact players already on the roster and getting better all the time in Corey Dickerson, Arenado, and Matzek, as well as a farm system almost ready to start pouring out more significant production, it does mean that fans should be happier with the way things are looking at the end of this season than they've been with any since at least 2010.

Times are not good at 20th and Blake, but they're also not nearly as bad some out there want you to believe.