The Rockies’ hopes of contention could ultimately rely mostly on how well the team stacks up against their NL West opponents. And those fights might come down to quality of starting pitching. At FiveThirtyEight, Chadwick Matlin and Gus Wezerek measured the quality of each expected starting rotation for each division. The Rockies fall about where we might expect: the middle. They’re rated better than the Padres and Diamondbacks but worse than the Giants and Dodgers.
They used Pitcher Score to rate each member of the 30 league rotations. Pitcher Score is essentially a running average of each player’s Game Score. Overall, the division average rates out 51 ( lowest team average is about 47 and the highest about 56). By this measure, the NL West has the worst overall starting pitching in the majors. The AL East has the best.
While the Rockies’ rotation rates third out of five, the team’s overall rotation is better than the divisional average. Not only that, but three out of the Rockies’ five starters have Pitcher Scores on the right side of the division’s average. In other words, this view of how the Rockies’ rotation stacks up is that it’s in the middle, but still better than average.
The NL West is a distinct division when it comes to starting rotations. While the Cubs have the best mark overall, the Dodgers are just a smidge behind. The Padres are easily projected to be the worst rotation in baseball. The NL West has the largest gap between the best and worst rotations, according to this analysis. The Rockies will face a wide range of quality pitching in the 76 games against the NL West this season.
One thing to keep in mind about this analysis is that it’s not clear how FiveThirtyEight calculated the Pitcher Scores for rookie pitchers. Neither Antonio Senzatela nor Kyle Freeland has a single major league Game Score yet, so their Pitcher Scores either come from projections or minor league starts. Either way, it doesn’t align with the way other pitchers receive their scores.
But it also means that the Rockies rate out at above average almost solely on the strength of Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood (there’s no need to worry about any of them yet). Ultimately, they’ll be the most critical parts of the rotation. Freeland and Senzatela have a chance to give them a boost with quality rookie seasons, but even if they disappoint, it doesn’t seem like they risk sinking the team. It’s dicey to have a rotation full of so many young arms, but there might be less pressure on the two most inexperienced parts of it than at first blush.