Don’t Blink, But Pitching Is Carrying the Colorado Rockies to Early Success

What if I told you the Colorado Rockies were a team carried by pitching rather than hitting? You’d think I was crazy. Understandable, but that has been the case so far in 2017.

The Colorado Rockies have reached respectability in today’s MLB. They are no longer considered a walk-over as they now have a number of weapons that opponents must game-plan for. Moreover, Colorado’s weapons are known to be on the offensive side. A knowledgeable fan would be quick to name the Rockies’ offensive threats, yet even a knowledgeable fan would struggle to name two Rockies pitchers. The club is trying to change that, and a nice collective start from the mound this season is helping.

Believe it or not, the Rockies offense has been average to start the season. The bunch ranks 21st in the majors with 44 runs scored. If the offense isn’t at its best, how are the Colorado Rockies 8-5 and in first place in the NL West? That’s right, they are pitching well.

The starting pitching staff isn’t represented well on paper; however, it’s certainly had some shining moments to this point. Furthermore, the overall ERA for Colorado’s starting hurlers is 4.76, ranking last in the NL. But we’ve seen some great performances to help justify that ugly number.

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Kyle Freeland shut down a good Los Angeles Dodgers lineup in his MLB debut. He tossed six innings, struck out six and gave up a single run. Additionally, his debut was made at the daunting hitter’s ballpark that is Coors Field.

Another bright spot has been another rookie. Antonio Senzatela is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA through his first two big league starts. The 22-year-old has given Rockies fans a number of reasons to be excited about the team’s future, as has the 23-year-old Freeland.

Jon Gray has not started the year as he would have liked. He’s combined for only 12 1/3 innings in three starts. He has a 4.38 ERA and has yet to factor into a decision. Despite his numbers, the Rockies have managed to win all three games in which Gray as started. Gray certainly wishes he would more so play his part, but a win is a win, and his team is winning when he is pitching.

In all, the Colorado Rockies starters have been spotty and inconsistent, but you could use the baseball term “effectively wild” to describe them to this point. Perhaps the real props should go to the team’s relief staff. The Rockies had the worst bullpen ERA in baseball a season ago. Thus far in 2017, they rank as the fourth best bullpen in the NL. That is quite the turnaround in a short period of time.

A world of credit goes to their newly signed closer, Greg Holland. It will never make sense as to why it took so long for a team to sign Holland this past offseason. He’s practically been unhittable throughout his entire career. Perhaps it was his demand to be a closer after missing all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, he’s now in Colorado and the Rockies are ecstatic. Holland has a 0.00 ERA in six appearances this season. He has combined for eight strikeouts and an opponents’ batting average of .111. Greg Holland is proving to be the perfect signing for a team which has habitually struggled in the late innings of games.

Alongside Holland, Adam Ottavino, Scott Oberg, and Mike Dunn have also dominated. The unit has combined for a 2.80 ERA and ranks sixth in the league with a opponents’ batting average of .214.

The Colorado Rockies will be an entertaining watch this season. It doesn’t appear they are quite ready for a playoff berth, but you never know. What is most important for Colorado is their progression. Their starting staff is far from playoff-worthy, but they are improving and the Rockies have wisely installed a unit of young and high-potential arms. Their bullpen is sustainable and looks to be a solid group moving forward.

All it takes is an average starting rotation and a slightly above average bullpen to partner with an explosive Colorado offense. As of today, the Colorado Rockies are playing like a playoff team. How long will that last? Enjoy watching the remaining 149 games of the regular season.

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