Going into the season most people were worried about the Rockies pitching. Those with half a brain new that Jeremy Guthrie was not an “ace”, not in the true sense of the word. Guys like Dan O’Dowd, George Frazier, Jeff Huson and anyone else who looks solely at wins, losses and ERA for a pitcher saw Guthrie’s 200 innings per year and were sold. How could he not succeed!? He pitches 200 innings a year and he will most certainly give the Rockies the stability they so desperately need at the top of their rotation.
And while we are speaking of spots in the rotation let’s be clear on one thing: Jamie Moyer is NOT the Rockies second best starter just because he started the second game of the season. He is clearly the team’s fifth starter and probably the first one out of the rotation when Jorge De La Rosa returns.
Back to Guthrie. Another prevailing thought was that Guthrie would certainly excel in the National League West after spending his most of his career in the big bat toting American League East. Against the Red Sox Guthrie has a 4.50 ERA in 19 games. Against the Kansas City Royals he has a 5.70 ERA in eight games. Against the New York Yankees Guthrie has a 5.15 ERA in 17 games. Against the Oakland Athletics he has a 4.66 ERA in eight games. Against the Chicago Cubs his ERA is 9.00 in two games and against Seattle his ERA drops to 3.72 in nine games. Sure in his one start against the San Diego Padres his ERA is a microscopic 1.13 but something tells me that goes up tonight. No matter the team, big bats or small, Guthrie is a pitcher who allows around four runs a game. About average.
Another stat that seemingly missed O’Dowd’s desk this year was ground ball to fly ball ratio. Guthrie is one of many pitchers O’Dowd signed this year that allows a lot of fly balls. News flash: Coors Field is a bad park to allow balls hit to the outfield. The home run parade Guthrie allowed earlier this week was a sign of things to come.
I think one of our brilliant readers, TroyF, said it best when referring to Moyer:
Moyer has to be so perfect even to be mediocre
I believe that same thought applies to most of the Rockies staff.
It definitely applies to Moyer and Guthrie. Sure each of them could pitch six or seven innings of one run baseball but don’t expect them to string together multiple starts of sub 3.00 ERA. After yesterday’s start by Drew Pomeranz the shine is definitely gone off this new toy. He was supposedly starting his motion early and giving the Diamondbacks large jumps on the base paths that led to multiple stolen bases and a balk. Not exactly the dominating performance – or even a solid performance – by the major piece received from Cleveland in return for Ubaldo Jimenez. To be fair the conditions were rough yesterday but the wind was blowing in and when Pomeranz gave up that shot to Chris Young in the first it was the start of a bad start.
That is 60% of the Rockies rotation that appears to be a question mark, at best, for the remainder of the season.
One of the bigger concerns for the team is the performance of Jhoulys Chacin. Going back to June 27th of last year Chacin has pitched 102.1 innings and allowed 53 earned runs for an ERA of 4.66. Chacin reportedly arrived at camp overweight and out of shape and his performance this year hasn’t dispelled any concerns that he lost his ability to pitch. So far in 2012 his hits allowed per nine, walks allowed per nine and home runs per nine are all way up. Pretty simple: Chacin needs to not allow as many base runners.
There is one bright spot in the rotation: Juan Nicasio. His last outing was awful, sure, but going back to last year prior to the incident in which he broke his neck he has shown the ability to control his fastball which is explosive. He has been hitting 95 mph or more on the radar gun with regularity and until his last start had not allowed more than three walks in an outing. Not allowing walks is certainly a good thing and he had issues doing so in his most recent start but it is not enough to be concerned.
If the offense cannot produce five or six runs a game (and I’m talking consistently produce runs, not 17 one game and 2 the next) the team will struggle. And as I wrote for this week’s power rankings on ESPN the bullpen is going to be out of arms by June if the starting rotation continues to fail to last more than five innings. Actually, five innings from a starter would be a treat after the past four or five games.
The San Diego Padres as a team are batting under .200 so far in 2012 and they are headed to Coors Field to play three games. It might be exactly what the team needs to get on track but I am not confident that Guthrie and Moyer can shut them down the first two games. In the third game on Wednesday I believe Nicasio continues to show his improvement and throws seven solid innings of baseball.
De La Rosa cannot return from the DL soon enough and guys like Tyler Chatwood, Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman are not the answer, just more of the same.
The Rockies are only one game under .500 early in the year and it isn’t time to panic but the outlook isn’t looking good.