Baseball analysts are a lot like meteorologists. Both use numbers and science and graphs and things to put together what they see as the most accurate prediction possible ahead of an actual occurrence. Lucky for the local weather man, he doesn’t have to figure in such factors as BCHP stats, elbow tendons, or how much a bad mascot affects a team’s odds of winning a pennant.
Sure, the weather in Colorado can be rather unpredictable around this time of the year, but you know what else is? Baseball! Here's a few story lines from the first month of the season that you probably hadn’t seen coming.
Jon Gray’s unfriendly welcoming to the Pacific Coast League
Rockies top prospect, Jon Gray, is supposed to be the long awaited boy wonder who will eventually storm the doors of Coors Field and lead his pack of unlikely heroes to a dramatic World Series victory one complete game at a time ... or something. There’s still faith he’ll live up to all of that, but his first month in Albuquerque has not played out with such heroics. Gray is sitting with a 9.13 ERA at the moment, and a WHIP of 2.029. As with any advancement, there’s some adjusting that needs to be done to get used to pitching at the next level, and Gray should be allotted the necessary patience. Maybe now the epic tale just includes a bit of a comeback story.
DJ LeMahieu’s hot start
The Rockies’ Gold Glove second baseman has never exactly been on any watch lists for a batting title. Most predictions agreed on a repeat year at the plate for LeMahieu to again contrast his otherworldly defensive showing -- an expectation that, in one strange twist, found commonalities between LeMahieu and Janet Jackson.
Oh, but wait, DJ LeMahieu’s .419 average led all of baseball during the month of April!
LeMahieu still leads Rockies position players with a .360 average from the bottom of the lineup, and ties Charlie Blackmon for third place in RBI. Yes, it is early in the season, but that is still a full month of outhitting the likes of Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Justin Morneau, etc. DJ LeMahieu may not remain atop this class, but you never know, because this is baseball and baseball is weird. Stranger things have happened. For example. . . .
Whatever it is that Drew Stubbs is doing right now
The Rockies fourth outfielder has 17 strikeouts in 28 at-bats this year. That’s a .607 complete-batting-fail average. On the season, he has two walks and two hits; both of those hits are home runs. Strikeouts are not a new issue for Stubbs, who has ranked among the top in the league over three of his seven years in the majors. This is, however, a historically bad start both for Stubbs' personally and in Rockies franchise history.
Stubbs, with a .071 batting average, has the most RBI of any man on the Rockies’ bench -- which includes Wilin Rosario and his 1.143 OPS.
That’s a lot of strange happenings for one man to shoulder. Stubbs can still turn this around, but until then, appreciate that this is history in the making.
Adam Ottavino’s short lived season
This one hurts. Adam Ottavino was as good as any reliever in the game before an aggravated triceps injury landed him on the disabled list. Bad news loomed over the last road trip before Ottavino was ultimately shut down for the season to undergo Tommy John surgery this past week. The recently named closer had earned the job title with impressive showings over much of last season. Ottavino’s absence is a huge blow to the Rockies bullpen. The right-hander had already notched a win and three saves to help his team to victories, and finishes his 2015 season without allowing a run.
There have been studies and discussions about slider-heavy pitchers being more prone to UCL damage, as well as the stress of velocity increase, which were both applicable in Ottavino’s case. Unfortunately for baseball fans, seeing a player at the top of their game doesn’t come with an automatic brace for impact.
Another rainout in Denver on Saturday makes it the fourth in what was supposed to be a six-game home stand. But they sort of saw that coming right?