The Rockies had a .500 road trip to Milwaukee and Pittsburgh this week, and the success was largely a result of dominant pitching and timely hitting. Here are three questions that came up during the week:
How do you evaluate Marco Scutaro’s performance so far?
Brendan: Quietly disappointing. Quiet because he has not struggled so badly that it has really stood out. Disappointing because, well, look at the numbers (with the caveat that it is only April):his current slash line of .227/.292/.273 is well off his career production of .270/.338/.387, the .292 OBP is especially bad considering he is the leadoff hitter, and his OPS+ of 49 is the worst on the team. Despite all the bad numbers, his at bats have not been terrible and he has made solid contact (evidenced by his 19% line drivepercentage), so his numbers should improve. His defense has been solid, but I would like to see more production offensively.
Kevin: Let’s just say that Scutaro is a seasoned veteran who is off to a slow start. He has not been striking out much, which is nice. Even though he is 36-years-old and a prime candidate for regression, I expect that his numbers will climb back up towards his career averages. Defensively, he has worked out the early error issues, so he at least provides a contact bat with strong defense up the middle (did someone say Jonathan Herrera???). Watch for Scutaro’s offense to get a booster shot from a nine-game homestand.
Ned: Scutaro’s offense has not yet gotten untracked. Given his history with Boston, I fully expect him soon to be hitting for a considerably higher average. He has shown the Rockies that he is a professional hitter who consistently sees a large number of pitches, and puts the ball in play where it needs to be for the particular situation. After a rough start, Scutaro’s defense has become rock solid. His defensive technique at second is textbook, his pivot on the double play is smooth and quick, and his arm is strong. Scutaro at second base is a definite upgrade for the club.
Who has been more impressive so far: Tyler Colvin or Eric Young, Jr?
Brendan: Both players have been great, but I am more impressed with EY2. Speed doesn’t have an off day and EY2 changes the game when he is on the basepaths. I have been surprised by how he has impacted ball games and shocked that Tracy even uses him appropriately. His ability to steal bases is an incredible asset and the combination of EY2 and Giambi gives the Rockies’ bench some dynamic options at the end of games. Colvin has been very good and deserves more playing time, either in the OF or at 1B, but EY2 is the more impressive player.
Kevin: EY2 has been more impressive. In Colvin’s defense, he has looked like the better piece in the Ian Stewart trade, and he has hit relatively well by driving the ball to all fields. However, in 36 plate appearances Colvin has 12 strikeouts and 1 walk. EY2 has been able to impact games with his speed by swiping bags, forcing errors, and scoring on sacrifice flies when no one else could. EY2’s bat (.385/.615/1.082) has also been more productive than Colvin’s, albeit in tiny sample sizes for both. Although both players have been productive bench players, neither should supplant Dexter Fowler in center, which I think would be a very short-sighted and illogical move.
Ned: So far, you have to love both these guys. Colvin plays a nice outfield and has a good arm. And his batting has been impressive, hitting the ball hard to all parts of the field. Considering the Rockies basically traded Ian Stewart for Tyler Colvin, DOD committed larceny. EY, Jr. is a human wrecking ball when he is on base. He totally disrupts the other team’s defense. And his batting approach seems to have matured considerably since last year. While both EY and Colvin have been very impressive to me so far, Colvin’s hitting and defense have made him the more impressive of the two.
Is the recent run of success by the starting pitchers a mirage?
Brendan: No. The starters have been very good lately and the statistics back up that perception. Over the last 10 days, the starting staff has put together an ERA of 3.06 with a WHIP of 1.2 and K/9 of 5.94 while averaging over 6 innings per start. Their BABIP on the season is .289, which is right in line with the league average, so it is not likely that luck is contributing to their recent success. Going forward, Moyer will likely come back down to earth, Guthrie and Pomeranz should improve, and Nicasio and Chacin should hold steady. I know that people such as Curt Schilling are not fond of the “quality start” stat (6IP with no more than 3R), but if the Rockies continue to get “quality starts” up and down the rotation thenthe success will continue.
Kevin: The answer is yes for Moyer and Guthrie. Moyer has been very effective during his last few starts, but he is giving up lots of hits, and sooner or later those hits will start resulting in more runs. Logan had a great piece on how Guthrie’s first three starts were aberrations and that he was a much better pitcher than the numbers indicated. Well, in his most recent start, his stats swung back the other way just as Logan predicted. The truth is that the real Guthrie is somewhere in between these extremes, so his success is a bit of a mirage, just as his struggles are a mirage. Nicasio is not a mirage. His slider has been looking good, which is a huge step forward in his development. For Chacin and Pomeranz, there has not been much recent success, but I expect that both pitchers will be more effective in the near-term. Their stuff has looked good, and they are both close to putting it together if they could just avoid bad luck.
Ned: Yes, without a doubt. Only Jamie Moyer has pitched consistently well. The other four starters have all have been vulnerable to the big inning. The team’s .500 record is attributable more to the bullpen’s performance than the starting pitching. While Nicasio has shown the best stuff of all our starters, I continue to believe that Pomerantz can lead the Rockies to a nice year if he can come around to become the promised power leftie.