Major Leagues, Major Pitching
Don’t look now, but Chad Bettis is off to one of the best season starts in Rockies history | The Athletic ($)
Boy, are these Colorado Rockies ever pitching to begin 2018. Starting off with the elder statesman of the rotation, at the veteran age of 28 years old, we have Chad Bettis, who is off to one of the best starts to a season in Rockies history. After four starts, Bettis has a 1.44 ERA, the third-best mark in team history, after Ubaldo Jimenez’s 0.95 ERA to begin 2010, and Shawn Chacon’s 0.98 ERA to start 2003. It’s worth noting that both Jimenez and Chacon went on to represent the Rox at the National League All-Star Game in the respective year that they got off to a hot start.
Tuesday’s outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates was the latest of several high-quality appearances for the right-hander Bettis. Despite the frigid conditions, he pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing zero runs on five hits, with three strikeouts against two walks. The Rockies have a talented rotation, but Bettis appears to be the only starter with “a fully-integrated arsenal,” writes Nick Groke of The Athletic. He is throwing fewer fastballs than at any other point in his career through his first 25 innings of the season, while nearly tripling his cutter usage. His changeup, which Bettis utilizes around a quarter of the time, has become quite the weapon. Before his most recent outing against the Pirates, opposing batters were hitting .125 against his changeup. Pittsburgh batters promptly grounded out 13 times on the pitch on Tuesday.
Colorado Rockies: How Kyle Freeland has changed on the mound | Rox Pile
Then we have Kyle Freeland, who is coming off a rough outing against the Pirates on Wednesday, but is inspiring confidence in various assets of his game. Freeland is striking out 7.65 batters per nine innings to begin 2018, which is not an insignificant increase from 2017’s rate. On the other hand, Freeland is walking over four batters per nine innings, and allowing 2.25 home runs per regulation game. Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta isn’t concerned, saying “I think he’s great… He’ll be fine.” Rox Pile’s Jake Shapiro provides an in-depth analysis to back up Iannetta’s positive outlook. Freeland has made a variety of key changes to build off an already impressive rookie campaign, such as increasing his velocity, creating a more downward angle, moving about two feet towards the third base side of the rubber, and lifting his left leg higher off the ground in his delivery.
Sarris: The art and science of designing a new pitch, from beginning to end, with Adam Ottavino | The Athletic ($)
If you want to talk about someone who has made significant changes to the way they pitch, we must talk about Adam Ottavino, who has looked nearly inhuman on the mound in 2018, and is putting up numbers to match. What causes 22 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings? It’s science, it’s art— it’s a whole newly designed pitch. You most definitely should check out this must-read article from Eno Sarris of The Athletic.
These 5 players have opened eyes in April | MLB.com
MLB.com’s Mike Petriello also gives Ottavino a shoutout in an overview of wild Statcast numbers to begin 2018. Ottavino has a 64.7% strikeout rate. He’s throwing sliders more than almost anyone in baseball, and baffling hitters by throwing the pitch in situations where they would never expect to see it.
Notes From the Field: April 18, 2018 | Baseball Prospectus ($)
Baseball Prospectus’ notes from Wednesday include information on Rockies outfielder Yonathan Daza (PuRP No. 19), who is beginning 2018 in Double-A with the Hartford YardGoats. Daza’s numbers to start the year are nothing to write home about, with a .220/.273/.293 slash line through his first 44 plate appearances, but he is coming off a .341/.376/.466 line at High-A from 2017. BP projects Daza will ultimately be a fourth outfielder/platoon player.
Tuesday’s top prospect performers | MLB.com
Brendan Rodgers (PuRP No. 1) broke out of a 1-for-26 slump on Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with a double for the YardGoats. The overall slash of .205/.225/.410 through the first 41 plate appearances for the Rockies’ consensus top prospect is disappointing to say the least, but it is very early and there is a lot of talent here.
News and Notes
Blackmon proves to be capable No. 3 hitter | Rockies.com
Rockies manager Bud Black chalks up the lack of offense early in the season to a lack of a consistent lineup. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon have both missed time due to suspension or injury, respectively. With Blackmon putting up good numbers as the number 3 hitter in Arenado’s absence, Black will have more confidence in pushing him into that role should the need arise, but for now, he expects the bats will get rolling once the entire team plays together consistently.
Rocky Mountain Low | The Ringer
You may recall the April 6 article in The Denver Post about the “ultimate visitors guide” to Coors Field, which featured a picture of Citizens Bank Park instead of the Rockies home. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the fall from grace experienced at The Denver Post. In a must-read article by Bryan Curtis of The Ringer, there are tons of quotes from current and former Post writers about the takeover of the paper by Alden Global Capital, the “vulture capitalists.”