This has been the most wonderfully strange first week of baseball for the Colorado Rockies in my memory. The bullpen (!) has been the strongest part of the team, Gerardo Parra looks like a major league baseball player, and the Rockies are off to their hottest start since 2015, when they started the season 7-2 while sweeping the Brewers in Milwaukee and the Giants in San Francisco. I’m a very happy person because of all of this, but there is some concern around the Rockies potent offense; the usual suspects besides superstar Nolan Arenado are struggling.
Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, and Trevor Story have all started the season below the Mendoza Line. Three of these four - Blackmon, Gonzalez, LeMahieu - have been BABip’d to death with a .250, .222, and .200 BABip, respectively. Those will rise as the season progresses.
Story currently has a BABip of .308, so his issue isn’t on balls in play; it’s putting the ball in play. I know, I know, it’s only the first week, but here’s the thing; that’s always going to be an issue for Story. His high strikeout rate has been well documented, along with the decrease in strikeouts as 2016 progressed, but he’s never going to be a guy that drops his strikeout percentage below 20. That’s not his game. The strikeouts come with the power. The power will come, but Story’s added something else while that comes around; patience.
Last year during his fiery start, Story struck out 11 times in his first 32 at-bats. This year, Story has struck out 11 times in his first 28 at-bats. Still not good, but not outside of the norm for him in his very short major league career. Again, we are looking at a very small sample size by comparing his first week of two seasons, but even during Story’s power binge he walked only once. This year, while he’s been struggling for hits, he’s walked four times, showing patience when the power isn’t there. That’s not to say the power isn’t there - three of his four hits are doubles - but the added patience is a good sign moving forward, both for hits and his strikeout rate.
Story isn’t going to be replaced for a while. He’s our shortstop of the foreseeable future. Have patience, just like Story; the power will come around.
Four other things from the opening week:
Greg Holland looks like the Real Greg Holland
The Real Greg Holland was a dominant force in one of the best bullpens in recent memory; from 2013-2015, the triumvirate of Holland, Kelvin Herrera, and Wade Davis terrorized the American League Central. Holland went down with an injury and is still making his way back to his old form and is dominating his way there. In four innings, Holland has allowed only one hit and has struck out seven. Best part; there’s a chance that he’s going to get even better as the year goes on.
Rookie pitchers making a difference
Kyle Freeland was wonderful after a shaky and nerve-filled first inning for the home opener on Friday following Antonio Senzatela’s wonderful debut in Milwaukee. Those two have delivered the two best starts in the short season, going a combined 11 innings, allowing six hits, five walks, and striking out 12. Hell of a start to two promising careers.
Mike Dunn is on a scoreless streak
Mike Dunn’s signing was widely criticized this offseason. The Rockies were giving another left-handed pitcher a three-year deal after coming off an injury. Don’t they remember the first two years of Boone Logan?
Dunn has been lights out in a Rockies uniform. In four appearances this year, Dunn has pitched four innings while allowing one hit, two walks and striking out seven. If we go back and include Spring Training, Dunn has pitched in 13.2 innings, allowed two hits, walked six, and has produced 19 strikeouts. So far so good! *knocks on wood*
Left-handed pitchers can hit; righties can’t
The Rockies have gotten two hits from their pitchers to start the season, one each from Freeland and Tyler Anderson. Jon Gray, Tyler Chatwood, and Senzatela are all hitless on the year and Senzatela doesn’t have an official at-bat due to two sacrifice bunts. This information clearly proves that lefty pitchers are better hitters.