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The Rockies and frustrating first innings

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, September 30, 2022

Throughout the season, have you ever missed the beginning of a Rockies game, only to turn it on and find out they are already losing?

If you’ve noticed a trend there, it’s not your imagination. The Rockies have given up more earned runs in the first inning this season than any other inning at 108.

The Rockies have fallen behind in the first inning 48 times this season. Nineteen of those times, it was just 1-0, but 12 of those times, it’s been by at least three runs. In those 48 games, the Rockies went 9-39.

The Rockies offense has taken the lead in the first inning in 25 innings in 2022 and won 19 of those games. See much of a difference between a .186 winning percentage after trailing in the first inning and a .760 winning percentage when they take an early lead?

A huge factor in the Rockies 65-91 record, which has them 26 games below .500, 43 games back in the NL West, and 18.5 games out of the Wild Card, is that they get behind early and can’t come back. While the lack of offensive production is infuriating (and hopefully something the Rockies front office will address in the offseason), the 108 earned runs are more reflective of the dramatic drop in the effectiveness of the Rockies starting pitching rotation.

With the MLB-worst .509 ERA, the Rockies starters and bullpen have struggled in many innings besides the first. The seventh comes in second at 106 and the fifth is third worst at 97. With an overall run differential of -166, the Rockies have been outscored in every inning except the sixth (99-95), the ninth (51-44), and extra innings (17-9).

Rockies Runs By Inning in 2022

Inning Scored Ave. Per Game Given up (ER) Ave. Per Game
Inning Scored Ave. Per Game Given up (ER) Ave. Per Game
1 73 0.497 108 0.697
2 64 0.413 81 0.519
3 83 0.535 88 0.568
4 69 0.445 86 0.555
5 77 0.497 97 0.626
6 99 0.639 95 0.613
7 95 0.613 106 0.679
8 52 0.335 63 0.406
9 51 0.327 44 0.284
extras 17 1.21 9 0.643
Total 677 771 ER/ 841 T

The first-inning plague has hit all the starters this season in concerning fashion.

The core of the Rockies starters all have ERAs above six with Kyle Freeland and Germán Márquez both at 6.30 and Antonio Senzatela at 7.11. The Rockies have fallen behind in the first inning in eight of Freeland’s 30 starts and only won one of those games. Marquez has fallen behind after the first frame 11 times and the Rockies have gone 3-8 in those games, while Senzatela has gotten behind after one seven times and the Rockies lost five of those games. Chad Kuhl, who’s third most in starts at 26, has been on the losing end after one inning nine times and the Rockies have gone 3-6 in those games. For José Ureña, he’s been down six times, Ryan Feltner four, and Austin Gomber three. The Rockies are 0-13 in those games.

Rockies Starting Pitchers By Inning in 2022

Pitcher GS 1st inn. ERA 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
Pitcher GS 1st inn. ERA 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
Kyle Freeland 30 6.30 2.40 3.94 2.83 6.75 5.21 8.53 - -
Germán Márquez 30 6.30 3.30 4.80 7.14 7.86 2.05 1.17 .00 -
Antonio Senzatela 19 7.11 4.82 3.38 8.40 2.02 2.16 9.00 - -
Austin Gomber 16 3.94 8.27 7.64 2.37 5.40 5.40 8.22 - 18.00
Chad Kuhl 26 7.27 4.15 5.33 4.18 9.47 1.04 .00 6.75 .00
Ryan Feltner 17 5.29 3.71 10.26 6.14 2.25 10.50 .00 - -
José Ureña 16 7.31 6.46 1.80 5.87 3.00 6.52 13.50 .00 5.40
Through Sept. 28

With the decline in starting pitching this year, it’s hard to ignore these first-inning numbers. With so much of pitching being mental toughness and requiring confidence, that mindset is hard to maintain when the opposing team jumps on pitchers in the first inning.

The Rockies need a better game plan for the first inning of games. Of course, a big problem here could be the execution of pitches by each individual pitcher. However, if the Rockies can game plan and come up with better attack methods for the top of the lineup of opposing teams and move past more first innings without being in a hole, it could lead to more wins in 2023.

Easier said than done, but the Rockies need to start finding solutions to 2022 woes now. Maybe this is more analytics or maybe this is a new pitching coach, but something has to change.

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Statistics illustrate how far Rockies have fallen since 2018 | Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders ticks through all the areas where the Rockies numbers have fallen off a cliff in the last four years: road wins, homers, and ERA. This article could have been even longer. But it’s a good overview of the Rockies major weaknesses, especially looking at a team with a lot of up-and-coming rookies when the strength in 2018 was veterans.

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On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes (COL) season concluded on Sept. 28 (Final record: 62-86)

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats (COL) season concluded on Sept. 18 (Final record: 34-34)

High-A: Spokane Indians (COL) season concluded on Sept. 11 (Final record: 30-36)

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (COL) season concluded on Sept. 20 (Final record: 42-24)

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