Mike Petriello once again delivers an excellent analysis of the Rockies. This time, he dives into the ways in which the Rockies have found pitching success despite missing missing Jon Gray for most of the year, Chad Bettis for all of it so far, and lackluster seasons from the two Tylers, Anderson and Chatwood. For one, the Rockies as a staff have prevented hard contact. This is evident in the expected wOBA against the staff, which is third best in baseball after the Dodgers and Astros. Add that to great starts from Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Germán Márquez and an outstanding bullpen, and we get a sense of how the Rockies have found so much success.
Not even the most optimistic Rockies fan would have guessed the Rockies would be this good while getting just 92 1/3 innings and a 5.46 ERA from Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson, and Tyler Chatwood. And, realistically, it probably won't continue quite this good going forward. Petriello notes that relying on weak batted-ball contact isn't the sure thing that generating swings and misses is. But the wins aren't going away. If Freeland, Senzatela, and Márquez begin experiencing natural woes that rookie pitchers usually feel, they might find backup from the guys everyone expected to carry the rotation in the first place. (Oh and don't forget Jeff Hoffman, who looked dang good last night). It's a fine position to be in.
Seven of the 15 teams FanGraphs projected to finish under .500 in the 2017 season are currently above .500. The Rockies are one of them. Now, FanGraphs has updated its projections to account for performance so far. Given the amount of information it takes to convince projections systems to change course, it’s not surprising that FanGraphs’ system still projects the Rockies to play below .500 baseball for the remainder of the season. Though they are now projected to finish with 84 wins (before yesterday’s win).
In Ben Lindbergh’s analysis of the Rockies, he echoes Petriello and states that the Rockies have played so well because of their pitching. The offense hasn’t even been that strong so far. With park adjusted stats considered, the Rockies’ offense ranks 27th in baseball. Lindbergh also notes that the Rockies are fourth in Defensive Runs Saved and are on track to have their first positive UZR season since 2007. Lindbergh writes, “by virtue of their banked wins, they have baseball’s best odds of winning a wild card.”
Bud Black faced a big decision in Wednesday's game against the Cubs. The Rockies had a 1-0 lead with two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh inning, and pitcher Germán Márquez was up to bat. Márquez had tossed 82 pitches to that point, so he still had pitches left to give, but given the score, it would have been reasonable to take Márquez out. But Black stuck with Márquez, and he got a hit to drive in two runs. Mark Kiszla cites this decision as another example of Black pushing the right button at the right time.
Mark Reynolds knew he was filling in for the injured Ian Desmond at first base when the Rockies purchased his minor-league contract prior to the season. Reynolds just made it unreasonable for the Rockies to displace him upon Desmond's return. Now, the Rockies have two first baseman they want to give playing time to. Depth is nice to have.
It looks like the Rockies are going to remain competitive going forward, and the NL West team they're likely to have to fight with most is the Los Angeles Dodgers. One of their best pitchers, Rich Hill, should be on his way to returning to the rotation after a strong rehab start. Blisters have beleaguered Hill for the past couple of seasons.