With an 8-6 record through the first 14 games of the season, the Rockies are now 79-58 in games played in April since the start of the 2011 season. This is truly a remarkable statistic when you consider that the Rockies haven't won more than 74 games in a season since 2010. They've played nearly a full season's worth of April games since they've been relevant beyond the first week of August, and the Rockies are on pace to go 93-69 if you only count the games played in baseball's first month. It's like Daylight Saving time: Spring forward, fall backward.
Taking into account what's followed recent April success for the Rockies is all the evidence most fans need to keep from buying into the 2016 squad, but there's another reason we shouldn't expect these Rockies to stay above .500 as we head into the summer months, and it comes in the form of run differential.
It's rather obvious, but it's also important to remember that runs are the building blocks of wins and losses, and they can often tell us if a team is playing better or worse than their record indicates. The more you outscore your opponent over a large number of games, the more likely your record is going to be good, and the more your opponent outscores you over a large number of games, the more likely your record is going to be bad. Really simple stuff.
This isn't impossible to overcome (the 2007 D-Backs won the division with a -20 run differential), but it tends to win out the vast majority of the time. Knowing this, let's take a look at how the Rockies have done in both the record and run differential departments in recent Aprils.
Right away it becomes clear that the 2016 Rockies are not playing as well as some of the other April Rockies teams that started off strong. Unlike the 2011, 2013, and 2014 Rockies who posted both a strong record and a strong run differential early, the 2016 Rockies are sitting two games over .500 thanks largely to their success in outperforming their run differential.
This is a double-edged sword. While it's always nice to outperform your run differential, it gets harder and harder to pull off as the sample size grows. Even in the small number of games played in MLB so far this season, the run differential gods are mostly having their way. The Rockies are the only team with both a winning record and a negative run differential, and on the flip side, the Giants are the only team with both a losing record and a positive run differential.
What I'm getting at is that if the Rockies want to keep their winning record, they need to play better than they've played so far, because their run differential says they haven't started off as well as they did in 2011, 2013, and 2014 - Three teams I thought could have been much better than their final record if they weren't so unlucky with injuries.
The 2015 Rockies meanwhile posted a negative run differential every month (I'm not counting the roll over regular season games in the first few days of October), and April was the only time they were able to beat the odds and piece together a winning record (one game over .500). So far, the 2016 Rockies have been able to pull off this trick, but just know that the devil usually comes to collect from teams that wander too far down this road.
In addition to this, most recent Rockies teams have played much worse after April for one reason or another, and this is reflected in both the final win total and run differential measurements:
Perhaps the 2016 Rockies can reverse this trend and actually post better run differential numbers after this month. It sure would be a welcome change, and it's really a change that needs to happen if they want to have a real chance at staying competitive, because as you can see in the table above, they're on their way to a -70 run differential if they keep playing the way they have in the first 14 games, and that's not going to cut it.
You wouldn't know it looking at the final score thanks to some outstanding bullpen work, but Jorge De La Rosa was dreadful again last night for the third time in four starts. Last week's game against the Giants is the only outing he's posted a Game Score above 34, which is a fancy way of saying he's been dog poo in the other three starts.
Games like last night not only put the Rockies in a hole on the scoreboard, they tax the bullpen. Chris Rusin deserves huge props for containing that fire, because De La Rosa's performance (particularly his failure to even attempt to hold runners on base) was embarrassing.
It's not time to hit the panic button with De La Rosa yet, but there's definitely cause for concern when you factor in his age and velocity. If he looks bad again the next two times through the rotation, the Rockies could have a real problem on their hands.
One last point I'd like to make on De La Rosa: There's a myth going around Rockies land right now that De La Rosa always starts off slow and then figures it out, and while that did happen last year, it's absolutely not true over the course of his career. In fact, if we look at hitters' OPS against De La Rosa, April 's actually been his best month.
Richard takes a look at the BABIP numbers of Nolan Arenado and DJ LeMahieu and compares their chances of winning a batting title.
Logan's looked pretty good out of the gate, but after the last two seasons he'll have to keep it up for a few more weeks before fans start to trust him in any sort of high leverage spot. He also has a much better chance of success if Walt Weiss uses him almost exclusively against lefties.
Also in that link is a note that Tyler Anderson is close to making his 2016 minor league debut. I'd love to see this guy stay healthy just so we can see what the Rockies have in this arm.