DENVER -- Eddie Butler isn't pitching anywhere close to what he's capable of. And yet, he owns a 3.27 ERA and a couple of wins after the Colorado Rockies' 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday.
The 24-year-old right-hander labored through six innings in the Rockies' third consecutive win, holding the Giants to four runs despite not having his best stuff or command. Under those circumstances, Butler's deep arsenal paid huge dividends.
"It’s funny how baseball works," Butler said after the game. "You go to the last pitch you would normally go to and it becomes your weapon."
Butler's two-seam fastball was flat and his best secondary offerings weren't sharp, either. "The changeup wasn’t as tight as it normally is and my slider wasn’t that great," the rookie hurler explained. "We actually relied heavily on my worst pitch, which is the curveball."
The pitch, which acts more like a slurve, was used to limit the damage in the fifth inning, when Butler allowed a pair of doubles but retired Buster Posey and Justin Maxwell to avoid more trouble than the one run that he allowed. Butler also used it in key sequences against Casey McGehee and Chris Heston in the sixth. Butler set down the Giants in order that inning. The Rockies scored three runs in the bottom half of the inning to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead, rewarding Butler for his efforts.
Of course, a relatively low-strikeout pitcher like Butler isn't much without his defense, an area in which the Rockies were once again outstanding. Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado led the way, making his usual couple of highlight reel plays, starting with a double play in the fourth inning that enabled Butler to work around back-to-back hits to start the frame.
"He went diving across the line and he has the mindset to tag third and throw the guy out as he’s being slid into," Butler recollected. "That’s just unreal."
It helps having a defense legitimately worthy of any complimentary nickname that could possibly be given to them, but Butler possesses enough weapons of his own to navigate through similar murky situations in the future. For him, like many young pitchers, it's about harnessing his ability.
"I’ve got to be making better pitches. It’s simple," Butler said. "I’m happy about getting the win, but I’m not happy with my personal performance."
Fortunately for the Rockies, Butler is gifted to the point where he pitches well enough for the team to be competitive in his starts even though he's still learning. In 22 innings this season, Butler has as many walks (13) as strikeouts. That's not exactly a recipe for success going forward, but for the 2012 first-round draft pick, those numbers are more indicative of growing pains than true talent level.
"There’s a lot of room to improve and that’s what I have to do," Butler said. "Luckily, with this team, if you give them a chance and keep them in the game, they’re going to win it more times than not."