NOTE: I live on the East Coast and wrote this article yesterday evening, only to wake up to the news the Corey Kluber kept the train rolling and threw ANOTHER no-hitter last night. The data in this article is from before that.
No-hitters are seemingly an easy feat in baseball this year. Spencer Turnbull turned in a gem against the Mariners on Tuesday, bringing the league-wide total to five on the season (that doesn’t even include Madison Bumgarner’s seven-inning no-no on April 25th.)
At this pace, the record for most no-hitters in a single season will be absolutely crushed by the end of the year. This year’s pitching class is already two away from tying the modern record (seven), a feat accomplished in 1990, 1991, and 2012. If they keep it up at the current rate, there will be 19 no-hitters in 2021 (well ahead of the non-modern record of eight as well), giving Rockies pitchers 14 hypothetical opportunities to join in on the fun.
It’s been eleven years since Ubaldo Jiménez threw the only no-no in franchise history, so the team is long overdue for number two. Unfortunately for the Rockies, they only have four games this season against the Mariners and zero against the Indians, the two teams that have already been no-hit twice.
Regardless of matchups, which Rockie is most likely to make history and navigate their opposition without allowing a hit?
Despite having an uncharacteristically tough start to the season, Germán Márquez is still the best pitcher on this Rockies team and is the most likely guy to achieve the feat. Since 2018, he has the 12th highest FanGraphs wins above replacement in all of baseball, higher than notable stars Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, and most importantly, every pitcher who has thrown a no-hitter this season. Just two years ago, Márquez took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Giants, where Evan Longoria slapped a single into the outfield with one out, leaving Márquez just five outs shy of history.
That was the closest Márquez has ever gotten to a no-no but don’t be surprised if he bests that one of these days. Just ask former Rockies catcher Tony Wolters who had this to say after catching that gem.
“At some point, he’s going to do a no-hitter, a perfect game. He’s got the stuff. He’s such a competitor, and he’s so selfless. After the hit, all he wanted to do was to get us the win.”
After Germán, it’s a toss-up between Jon Gray, who has the team’s longest no-hit bid of the 2021 season, and Kyle Freeland, who was just two outs away from a no-no of his own in 2018.
Gray has been the team’s best pitcher this season, so he may have the slight edge. On April 8th, he went six hitless innings against the Diamondbacks, only to see a David Peralta triple to start the inning end his bid. On days when he’s on, Gray can be absolutely electric and has shown glimpses of that throughout the 2021 season. It wouldn’t be a complete shock to see him flirt with another no-hitter at some point this summer.
Kyle Freeland, who could finally make his season debut at some point before the end of May, wouldn’t be a bad bet in the no-hitter department either. We’ll have to see how he looks when he gets back on the mound for the first time since last year, but his fourth-place Cy Young finish in 2018 is a testament to just how great he can be.
While those three are, on paper, the most likely to throw a no-hitter, Antonio Senzatela was the team’s best pitcher last season and is more than capable of stymieing the opposition on a given night. Not to mention, past success isn’t always an indicator of no-hit ability. Spencer Turnbull’s ERA before Tuesday night’s sterling performance? A lackluster 3.91.
It’s no secret this has been a tough season for the Rockies so far, but a no-hitter would be an unforgettable moment in this team’s history to make the year a little brighter.
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Bud Black has started to show some minor signs of frustration this season and honestly, I’m surprised it took this long. So is Denver Post Rockies writer Patrick Saunders who had a question of his cut short by Bud Black during a press conference following the Rockies’ 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Padres on Monday.
“Hey, I don’t blame him. He’s talking the media after another tough loss and I don’t expect him to always be upbeat and charming – as he usually is,” said Saunders in the article.
It’s not just the fact that the Rockies are losing a lot of games, but at times, it’s the way that they’re doing it. The starters have had their issues sure, but the bullpen is consistently finding ways to lose games. Dropping two of three games on wild pitches in the final inning tells you all you need to know about this Rockies’ ‘pen.
If Bud Black’s mood is going to improve this year, the team is going to have to make some serious changes as we get into the second quarter of the season. This list, unsurprisingly, starts with the bullpen. It’s clear by now that there are no magic fixes for the Rockies’ late inning pitchers, but a little improvement is an absolute must. In the word’s of Rox Pile writer, Noah Yingling, we’re just looking for “adequate” for now.
On top of that, the non-Jon Gray starters are going to need to pick up some of the slack. The looming return of Kyle Freeland could help that cause, but Márquez, Senzatela, and to a lesser extent, Chi Chi González need to up their performances to the level we know they’re capable of.
Finally, the Rockies need to be better on the road. Plain and simple. They’re not exactly world beaters at Coors Field, but 13-12 is a heck of a lot better than...2-17. Bud Black was curt in his denial of a “Coors Field Effect” on Monday, but even if you’re certain that bouncing around from high-altitude to low is impacting this team, it can’t continue the way it currently is. The team has always dealt with the altitude changes, with varying levels of success, but never this poorly. The next quarter of the season is going to require a 180 on the road if the Rockies hope to bring their away record back to a respectable mark.
On the farm
The Low-A Fresno Grizzlies continued to pace the Rockies’ minor league clubs with a 5-4 win over the San Jose Giants that brought their record to 10-4 on the season. Starter Sam Weatherly struck out ten in four innings, but allowed four runs. After that, the bullpen turned in five shutout innings of ball to guide the team to victory.
The Spokane Indians also grabbed a win last night to improve to 4-10 on the young season, the inverse of their Low-A counterparts. Center fielder Brenton Doyle and second baseman Hunter Stovall did a lot of the heavy lifting on the offensive side of things but combining for four of the teams five RBIs in the 5-3 win.
The Yard Goats were the lone affiliate who couldn’t find a way to win last night as the Somerset Patriots bested them 6-4 in extra innings. Right fielder Todd Czinege accounted for three of the teams six hits. The offense as a whole struggled, striking out 15 times and leaving 20 runners on base. Starter Frank Duncan was solid, allowing three runs on five hits in four innings, but reliever Julian Fernández was unfortunately saddled with the loss when he gave up two runs in the tenth inning.
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