Which came first in 2019: the juiced ball or cracks in the Rockies’ rotation?
The Rockies don’t know either.
Without question, explains author Nick Groke, the pitching staff was bad independent of this year’s ball. One notable issue was the strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10.5 percent, which was dead last in the NL and second-to-last in MLB. Rockies’ pitching also gave up the most HRs in the league and struck out the fewest batters. These are big problems for any team, but especially one playing at altitude.
However, the ball also seems to have played some role in the HR spike that plagued Rockies’ pitching. Former Rockie Chad Bettis believes the balls were significant. “For me, it seems like we’ve witnessed it firsthand,” he says. “Less resistance means pitches aren’t moving like they were.” Less movement leads to less swings and misses which leads to more cOorRs hits.
Groke points out that more will be known once baseball releases its report on the ball construction in 2019. Until then, the Rockies will be pouring over the game notes made by Steve Foster and Darren Holmes along with “what [Bud Black’s] eye tells [him]” until they crack the code.
Noting the 21.4 and 19.4 fWAR of the Nationals’ and Astros’ starters, Jake Shapiro says, “Never has it been more clear that, no matter the year, pitching will lead to the pennant.” Specifically, starting pitching.
So where do the Rockies stand going into the offseason? The trio of Jon Gray, German Marquez, and Kyle Freeland once seemed elite, but this season may have exposed some cracks. Gray certainly bounced back from a rocky 2018 with a sub-4.00 ERA, but Marquez struggled at times despite having the best stuff on the team, and Freeland had to rehab his mechanics instead of bolstering the rotation during the Rockies’ slide in June and July. The back half was a mess, with Jeff Hoffman, Antonio Senzatela, and Peter Lambert all hovering around a 7 ERA.
With no money to spend and no clear strategy for improvement (per The Athletic article above), it may be awhile before the Rockies have a starting pitching staff capable of competing on the biggest stage.
And then there’s the bullpen.
Here they are:
- Everything else
OK, that isn’t the real list. The questions are much larger and more existential, even, for Thomas Harding. He wonders, for example, “Who are the Rockies?” “What are the club’s options?” “What is sport, really, in the grand scheme of things?”
Fine, that last one was mine, too.
But it becomes clear reading through Harding’s list that the Rockies have a lot of work to do, not much money to do it with, and no real identity to build around. Combine those realities with the milieu of perhaps the most disappointing season in franchise history, and we have a horror story appropriate for Halloween.
Mark Feinsand has an answer over at MLB.com. But I’m curious what Rockies’ fans think. How would you answer?
What is the Rockies biggest need?
This poll is closed
Some other kind of pitching
I don’t really follow this team
Results will be posted in a week. Hang tight!
With the news that Coors is moving its headquarters to Chicago, some fans wondered if this is the beginning of the end for the naming rights at 20th and Blake. While the loss of jobs will affect the city, the loss of the name “Coors Field” will not. Molson Coors worked out a deal early on that will keep the Rockies playing at “Coors” Field “in perpetuity.”
This is good news for baseball tweeters everywhere, as they will still be able to drop “Coors” without context for as long as the Rockies (or Twitter) exists.