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Rockies finally may have the right pitching plan

Rockies news and links for April 3, 2018

Built from the Mound Up | Mile High Sports
In an article originally published in Mile High Sports Magazine, Doug Ottewill explains the thorough process of the team effort that went into creating the Rockies’ pitching culture. It may come as a surprise that the Rockies were able to land high-caliber pitchers such as Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Bryan Shaw over the past couple of years, when playing in a stadium like Coors Field. By all accounts, Coors has been a venue that free agent pitchers have avoided like the plague for the better part of a decade.

When Dan O’Dowd took over as General Manager, he succeeded in reeling in accomplished pitchers Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton on lucrative deals, but both players floundered in their Rox careers. When Jeff Bridich was promoted to the GM role after the 2014 season, he, along with with new pitching coach Steve Foster and new bullpen coach Darren Holmes, held a three-day “pitching summit”. With input from staff at all levels of the organization, an agreement was reached on how to implement a plan that could generate more success than what was currently in place.

Foster says the team is focused on “hard four-seam guys, good spin rates on curveballs, sliders, mechanically sound guys.” Foster lives by the five “E’s” of Encourage, Engage, Equip, Empower, and Edify. Mental toughness combined with talent goes a long way on this team. And Bridich has decided the time is now right to invest money into the process.

After their postseason run in 2017, the Rockies have created a winning atmosphere, making it easier to lure players like Davis and Shaw to Colorado. To sum it up, veteran starting pitcher Chad Bettis notes, “No one’s afraid to pitch at Coors anymore.”

In stacked NL West, Rockies must be ready to attack | Mile High Sports
The Rockies must deal with their fair share of high-caliber pitchers in the National League West. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Robbie Ray, and Madison Bumgarner (when healthy) will likely have their talents on display on multiple occasions against the Rox. During Greinke’s start for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night, Blackmon provided the offense, hitting two solo home runs (one off Greinke, and another off D-Backs reliever Fernando Salas).

The pitch from Greinke was a first-pitch curveball, and Blackmon was also hacking early in the count against Salas, swinging-and-missing at a first-pitch changeup, before depositing the second offering (a fastball) into the right field seats. Manager Bud Black credits Blackmon for being aggressive early in at-bats, and would like to see the rest of the offense follow suit.

Nolan Arenado’s Big Season Starts Now | 5280
Robert Sanchez of 5280 has a wonderful profile of Nolan Arenado. Nolan doesn’t have many doubters, coming off one of the best (if not the best) seasons of his career, but it wasn’t always this way. When Blackmon saw “lumbering teenager” Arenado for the first time, he wondered why the Rockies had wasted a draft pick on him. We get a small glimpse into Nolan’s rarely-seen private life and his motivation for continuing to get better in this must-read piece for Rockies fans.

Colorado Rockies: John Farrell picks Rockies to win NL West | Rox Pile
Former Boston Red Sox Manager and current ESPN analyst John Farrell is picking the Colorado Rockies to win the NL West in 2018! He cites the additions to the bullpen as the perfect complements to the “explosive offense.” Farrell joins MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa, Ryan Spilborghs, and Casey Stern as believers in the Rockies’ ability to win the division.

Kiszla: Bud Black explains the mystery of 42 and why this Rockies win over Arizona was so critical | The Denver Post ($)
Black considers Saturday’s win over the Diamondbacks as “one of 42.” The idea here is that every team will win 60 games and lose 60 games. The other 42 are what separate playoff-caliber teams from those who miss out. It’s a strange concept to me because I’m not inclined to believe there were 42 games that were especially important compared to others in the 87-win 2017 season, but Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post explains what he thinks needs to happen for the Rockies to have a positive outcome in their 42.

National League West: Sleeper prospects for 2018 | Minor League Ball
Minor League Ball has revealed their “sleeper prospects” for the National League West, with outfielder Sam Hilliard (PuRP No. 17) as their Rockies pick. Hilliard had a great deal of success in Spring Training, hitting .370, but has yet to prove himself in Double-A. Minor League Ball has given Hilliard a Corey Dickerson offensive comp in the past.

Around Baseball

Saunders: Tulo’s latest injury another blow for a once-great player | The Denver Post ($)
Troy Tulowitzki was recently placed on the 60-Day Disabled List by the Toronto Blue Jays, as he is set to have surgery to remove bone spurs on both of his heels. It’s the latest in the career-long line of injuries for the former Rockies All-Star shortstop, and Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post provides a retrospect of his career.

Twins unhappy Orioles’ Chance Sisco bunted for a hit | NBC Sports
Jose Berrios pitched a shutout on Sunday afternoon for the Minnesota Twins, but the Twinkies were not happy when the game was over. It was a 7-0 game in the bottom of the 9th, when Baltimore Orioles rookie catcher Chance Sisco came to the plate. The Twins shifted their defensive alignment to accommodate for a left-handed batter. Sisco laid down a bunt for a single—the second hit of the game.

After the game, Berrios, second baseman Brian Dozier, and outfielder Eddie Rosario expressed their displeasure with Sisco choosing to lay down a bunt to beat the shifted defense. Either due to the score or the fact that Berrios was pitching a one-hit shutout, the Twins felt as though baseball’s unwritten rules had been broken by this act. Evidently, there’s no unwritten rule regarding shifting against a batter under the same circumstances.