This past weekend was easily the best weekend of Rockies baseball in probably a year. By not completely giving in on Sunday, the Rox were able to pick up a tough road series win against the Brewers. Most importantly, the pitching is looking much better over the past week. One sentiment that has been tossed out there recently is that this Rockies team has a little more fight in them than last year’s version. Perhaps that’s the case, but it also could just be that they’re better this year.
This week, we are stealing a page from an ESPN daily MLB feature called the Triple Play – not the name, but the concept. Every week, three of our writers will answer three Rockies’ related questions. This week, Travis, Tom, and I address Jeremy Guthrie, the season’s first road series win, and the solid recent play of the team.
After beating the Brewers yesterday, the Rockies have now won three straight series and are only three games back of the Dodgers despite LA’s torrid start. Are you drinking Rockies Kool-Aid yet?
Travis Lay (@travislay_bsb):
The Rockies won two of three from the San Diego Padres who figure to be one of the worst teams in the National League and two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers who don’t have the same lineup without Prince (and the game the Rockies lost was against a long reliever making a spot start). Beating Yovani Gallardo is always a good thing and Jeremy Guthrie really impressed on Sunday. The first series of the three the Rockies won against the Arizona Diamondbacks is the only series win that impresses me because the Diamondbacks figure to compete for the NL crown again. I am not impressed yet. If they are still competing come April 30th when the Dodgers come to town and win THAT series, I’ll buy the sugar for that Kool-Aid.
Tom Ley (@toley88):
I don’t know if I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, but this is certainly a better start than the I expected. The team hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders either, as the defense has been shaky and the pitching staff has been mediocre at best. In some ways that makes this start all the more encouraging, but we all know that the Rockies can’t survive without improving those two areas. Their ability to do that remains to be seen. Let’s also not forget that the team excited us all with a 17-8 start last April, and we all know how that season turned out.
Logan Burdine (@Logan_Burdine):
I’m definitely coming around a little on this team. I really like Cuddyer. He’s shown the ability to hit on the road and when the pressure is on. If the pitching staff continues to progress and DLR comes back strong, I think a playoff run is definitely in the cards. They have a strong lineup and bullpen. One problem is that the NL West is actually looking pretty strong. The Dodgers are obviously rolling and even though the Diamondbacks may not get the pitching they did last year, they are going to be a tough team to beat. But, again, it all comes down to the starting rotation, which is looking so, so much better.
2. Everyone on this panel has been critical of the Jeremy Guthrie acquisition, but he had his best outing of the season against Milwaukee. Did his start give you hope that this will turn into a good move for the organization?
No. One good start does not make up for the previous horrid starts. Guthrie still walked more than he struck out and allowed seven fly balls which just happened to find leather and not the seats or the grass.
No, not really. Until I see Guthrie manage to finish a start without issuing more walks than strikeouts, I will remain skeptical of his value to the team. Sure, he’s 2-1 and he’s pitched 7 innings in three of his four starts, but he’s only managed to strike out 5 people in 24 and 1/3 inning while walking 10. That is an abysmal strikeout to walk ratio, and no pitcher in the league can maintain long term success with numbers like that.
It was certainly a step in the right direction, but I remain skeptical. He has five K’s in 24 innings this year. And he’s not your typical pitch to contact kind of guy. The crazy thing about Guthrie is that he is currently benefiting from a career low .239 BABIP, meaning he’s actually been lucky this year. Inevitably, more hits will drop in as the year progresses, and Jeremy will have to combat that by striking out more and walking less. Otherwise, this is going to get really ugly.
3. Last year, the Brewers were 33 games over .500 at home. Needless to say, taking a series in Milwaukee is no small feat for a team that has historically struggled on the road. Do you think the team will perform well away from Coors this year?
Since 2007 the Rockies are 51 games under .500 on the road – and that includes finishing one game above .500 on the road in 2009. And don’t ask me again, if the Rockies take two of three from the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates to start the week. Call me a pessimist or a Debbie Downer but beating the Brewers early in the season is not something to get excited about. In 2010 the Rockies exploded to start the season in Milwaukee; Ian Stewart hit a blast 432 feet to deep center and Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six innings of one-run baseball…and…now I am all riled up over Stewart and Jimenez! Does that answer your question?
I feel better about the Rockies’ chances to win on the road than I have in recent years. The teams three best hitters, Tulowitzki, Gonzalez, and Helton, have all historically performed much better at home than they have the road, contributing largely to the team’s overall road struggles. I think that the addition of Cuddyer and Scutaro could help turn the tide a bit in this area, as they have both proven very capable of hitting well on the road throughout their careers. I could see the Rockies sniffing .500 on the road this year. A 39-42 record sees doable.
For starters, they can’t throw in the towel on getaway days. Yesterday’s lineup wasn’t awful, which is saying a lot for Tracy recently. So, maybe he’s smartening up on that. Also, a guy like Cuddyer should help. Cuddyer hasn’t skipped a beat on the road this year. The win in Milwaukee was great, but ultimately their fate will be determined by how they play in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco and that’s always been tough on this team. I’m thinking a 38-43 road record is a reasonable forecast.