Through two games, the biggest concern for the Rockies has been their starting pitching. Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson have both struggled to finish their starts despite starting them in a dominant manner. The Rockies need their two young aces to pitch deeper into games, since there are two more starting pitchers in the rotation with even less experience.
Thankfully, it appears that the Rockies young pitchers have been more a victim of bad luck than anything else. Both pitchers were pulled early due to ineffectiveness rather than inefficient pitching, which would have been worse. Especially when the ineffectiveness may have more to do with bad luck than anything else.
While the final results have been extremely ugly for Gray and Anderson, with 10 earned runs surrendered in 9 2⁄3 innings, the underlying peripherals that reflect their actual performance are much better. The two have combined for 15 strikeouts, three walks and one home run good for a 2.16 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which is usually a good predictor for future performance.
The two biggest factors in the ugly results has been an extremely high BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) against and extremely low LOB% (Percentage of runners Left On Base). Thankfully those are two numbers that should normalize over time.
The Rockies starters currently have a BABIP against of .520 which is by far the highest of all starters. Over half of the balls put in play have resulted in hits. Normally, less than a third of those balls put in play result in a hit. From 2012 to 2016, Rockies starters surrendered a BABIP against of .314.
They have also struggled to keep the runners that have reached from scoring. For most pitchers 70-72 percent of base runners don’t score. For Rockies pitcher’s that number is a little lower thank to Coors Field and only 68.4 percent of runners haven’t scored against Rockies pitchers in the last five years. Gray and Anderson have a combined 44.9 percent LOB so far this year. That reflects extremely bad luck in the sequencing of the hits they have allowed.
It’s normal for these types of extremes to show up in individual games throughout the course of a season. But because they have been extreme so far, we can safely predict better results next time around.
Earlier today, I looked at the success that the Rockies bullpen has had. Looking at the performance rather than the results and comparing it the league averages give the Rockies bullpen a 59 FIP-. That tells us that the Rockies relievers have performed 41 percent than the rest of the league. The Rockies starters also have a 59 FIP-, so while the results have not been pretty the underlying performance had been equally good.