As the month of May comes to a close and the baseball games pile up, looks back at the good and the bad of Rockies baseball over the past week become a little bit more about shifting trends and things that stubbornly will not change. That’s the theme this week.
What was good
The record! This has been up and down, but it’s starting to trend in the right, upward direction. Since last Friday, the Rockies have went 5-1 and now sit above .500 for the first time since they were 2-1 after the first series of the season. Four of those five wins were one-run victories. There are a few ways to view that, but right now I’m going to take the positive view and just note that it means they were exciting games to watch, listen to, or watch the highlights of after the fact. While they are still nine games behind the Dodgers for first place in the NL West, they are just 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot.
The Rockies have overcome the basic hurdle of getting back to and now over .500. The hard part, now, is going to be staying there. They really need to put a win streak or a solid bit of games together now if they are going to create enough cushion room to stay competitive. If they continue this .500 hover, 79-82 wins starts to feel more likely than the postseason.
But they’re at least on the good side of .500 right now. Let’s stay there.
What was bad
Kyle Freeland. Kyle Freeland was bad, and in 2019 that is far more normal than anything else. In Freeland’s last three starts he’s given up 15 runs in 8 2⁄3 innings. That’s an ERA of 15.83. His ERA for the season now sits at 7.13. The peripherals hardly matter with an ERA like that, but for good measure his FIP is also 6.36 and an xFIP of 5.23. So the charitable view here is that some bad luck has made an awful season extra awful.
The other bad thing is that there’s no real clear process-oriented reason for it. His strikeouts are down about 1.5 percentage points, and his walks are up about a percentage point, but even with those combined it doesn’t suggest disaster. Bud Black insists there are no lingering blister issues.
The best explanation I’ve seen is that his pitches this season are traveling more to the center of the plate than the edges. When you think about that, though, it’s just another way of saying he’s been bad at pitching. It’s like saying the reason I’ve been late to my 9:00 a.m. meetings is because I’ve been sleeping too late. No pitcher wants to throw the ball down the middle, and if it was easy to just paint the edges everyone would do it. So why is that happening?
Kyle Freeland is having a bad season because Kyle Freeland has been bad. That, to me, makes it sound like the Rockies, their pitching coaches, and Freeland have quite the challenge ahead of them for figuring this out and re-capturing what make Freeland so good in 2018.
What else was good
The Rockies have some fun competition coming up. They start a three game series against the Blue Jays tonight, which means we get the chance to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The Jays also employ Craig Biggio’s son Cavan, and Dante Bichette’s son Bo is among their top prospects. They’re the junior team for baseball fans who came of age in the 90s. It’s fun.
What was good for you this week?