Good morning. The Colorado Rockies (11-3) currently have the best record in baseball.
When you’re the best team in baseball, you get national features like the best team in baseball. Michael Bauman is quick to point out that it has only been two weeks, but two weeks constitutes 20% of the shortened 2020 season. The Rockies don’t have to try to sustain this stretch through the dog days of summer; they just have to try to do it for two months.
Bauman blesses us with an in-depth breakdown of the Rockies starting foursome of German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Jon Gray. He breaks down (with GIFs!) Márquez’s pitch movement, noting the power of his hard slider when paired with the 95-mph heater. He pulls up Freeland’s pitch mix (sliders and change-ups are way up; four-seamers, cutters, and curves are way down). He marvels at how, despite a profile that seems destined to fail at Coors Field, Senza is a major leaguer—and, this year, quite a productive one—and top draft picks like Riley Pint and Robert Tyler are not. Gray’s spiking change-up usage gets a look.
The conclusion? The Rockies rotation is “undoubtedly playoff-quality” and able to give any team a scare in a three-game first round playoff series.
Yes, playoffs. This is a serious conversation for a reason that Rockies fans will have to get used to hearing: anything can happen in this shortened season. Nothing the Rockies are doing now has to be sustained for two months when eight of 15 NL teams will make the playoffs. They’ve built up enough cushion so far that the Vegas lines are slowly moving them up, meaning a $100 bet on the Rockies to win the World Series or the NL pennant was much more valuable two weeks ago than it is today.
One local sportswriter wants a mulligan on his modest 29-31 prediction for the Rockies this season. Writers (including those on this website) will make predictions, whether from obligation or from joy, but it is not often that they will wave their previous predictions out there and ask for a do-over. Saunders raises his win total prediction significantly from the preseason, offering various reasons to believe (as well as red flags for concern) for a 2020 Rockies playoff run.
One of Saunders’ red flags was the pitching depth after fifth starter Chi Chi Gonzalez was placed on the IL this weekend. But maybe a long-awaited top pitching prospect can adequately fill that void. Ryan Castellani made his major league debut last night and looked superb. He was on a strict pitch count since he hasn’t had any minor league work this year, but impressed nonetheless in his four short innings.
The long and short of it is this: the next hit Castellani allows will be the first one. Thomas Harding has the story about how skipping class in 2014 to watch Max Scherzer throw an offseason bullpen session set Ryan on the path to his Major League debut.