Who here remembers Franklin Morales? You know, the erratic lefty that was on the team for five years? No? Let me refresh your memory.
Morales was signed by the Rockies as an amateur free agent in 2002 out of Venezuela. He was impressive early in his minor league career, making it as high as No. 30 on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list in 2007. Morales made his debut that same year at age 21 and had tantalizing results, posting a 3.43 ERA in eight starts covering 39⅓ innings during the regular season. He blew up in the postseason (10 innings, 11 runs allowed, four walks, six strikeouts) and never recovered; Morales posted an ERA of 5.55 from 2008-2010, rotating between the bullpen and the rotation before being traded to Boston mid-season in 2011. His advanced statistics weren’t much better; he walked 6.1 batters per nine innings and managed an ERA+ of just 85 over that same span. Morales returned to the team in 2014 and was bad then, too.
He epitomizes how the common man views the Rockies pitching staff; there’s some talent on the roster but Coors Field and the Rockies' history of development overrides that talent, thus creating the Franklin Moraleses of the world. In honor of Frankie Mo, I’ve created a new evaluation of the Rockies' pitching staff: the Morales Line. Who is above it and who is below?
As you see in the above chart, there are only five Rockies who are over the Morales Line so far in 2016: Miguel Castro, Jake McGee, Chad Bettis, Tyler Chatwood and Bone Lagoon, er, Boone Logan. I know it's early and a small sample size is no true indication of trends, but with only five pitchers over the Morales Line is not a good way to start the season. While that trend is not super surprising and a few guys will end up above the Morales Line (Jorge De La Rosa, Chris Rusin, Chad Qualls?) with a few more solid appearances, these first few weeks have been pretty bad from the mound. Like, worse than Franklin Morales bad.
But not all is lost, friends! Jon Gray is on his way after some promising rehab starts in Modesto and Christian Bergman had a great spot start on Saturday, giving us a glimpse of what we could expect from him moving forward, albeit in a relief role. Logan should stay over if he’s used correctly as a LOOGY (it’s a 50/50 chance of that happening); Chatwood and Bettis are having impressive starts and are continuing where they left off; and Castro and McGee look great on the back end of the bullpen. With reinforcements on the way and inevitable regression to normalcy over more innings, we'll have more over the Mendoza Line in a few months.
Five Things that are Good or Bad
1) This is what we should expect from Trevor Story.
Story’s power output in week one was outstanding and incredibly fun, but this week we saw what we should expect from him: gap-to-gap power with a lot of missed swings. Story struck out a lot in the minors; he recorded 468 Ks over 368 games from 2013-2015 and produced an overall line of .279/.350/.514 last year in Double-A and Triple-A. That sounds about right.
2) Tyler Chatwood: Real or nah?
Guys, Tyler Chatwood is good. I’m convinced he’s good. Maybe not second or third starter good, but he’s a guy you’d find in the back of the rotation for a contending team; someone who will keep you in games and throw out a gem once in a while. Let’s see how this season plays out, but Chatwood could turn out to be pivotal for the Rockies' future.
3) The Rockies won a series at Wrigley. Really, they did. And beat Jon Lester. Really.
The Rockies, until this weekend, had not won a series on the North Side since 2006. That calls for a celebration of some kind, right?
4) Speaking of Lester, the Rockies were caught stealing twice against him.
That is really bad considering how a) Lester refuses to learn a move to first; and b) if you know you aren’t going to get picked off, how the hell do you get thrown out? Mind = blown. Still won though, so that’s good.
5) Jon Gray is on the way (and Jeff Hoffman might not be far behind)!
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still really excited about what Gray can do. I’m not giving up until we’ve had years of failure and, to this point, he’s given us things to be excited about. Sure, there’s work to be done, but that’s what happens when you’re a rookie (DON’T FORGET HE’S STILL A ROOKIE. HE CAN GET BETTER I PROMISE).
Hoffman has been lights out this year for Triple-A Albuquerque, only allowing two runs and four walks in 13 innings to go along with nine strikeouts. He’s been efficient and is keeping opposing batters off the basepaths. If Jordan Lyles continues to struggle, Hoffman deserves at least some consideration.
TOOTBLAN TRACKER, WEEK TWO:
Sadly, the TOOTBLAN-less ways of the first week of the season couldn’t continue as we had hoped. The Rockies had three in consecutive games against the Giants, listed below. Note: caught stealing and pick offs are not included in this. I consider a TOOTBLAN to happen after a ball is put in play off the bat. If you have a problem with that, well,
April 14 vs. San Francisco, eighth inning: Tony Wolters runs into an out heading to third base on a ground ball. #Fundamentals
April 13 vs. San Francisco, second inning: DJ LeMahieu gets thrown out at home after a missed catch by second baseman Joe Panik. LeMahieu was running with the pitch (two outs, 3-2 count) but had no business trying to score.
April 12 vs. San Francisco, fifth inning: Carlos Gonzalez is thrown out at home while trying to score from first base on a soft single to right-center. Gonzalez was in motion and Angel Pagan initially overran the ball causing third base coach Stu Cole to wave him home. TOOTBLANs are a team statistic!