Is it just me or does it seem like the Rockies pitching has been a lot better over the past month or maybe even six weeks? It could just be recent memory since the team has allowed three or fewer runs in six of their past nine games, but, dare I say it, it feels like the 75 pitch count/starter+piggybacker strategy is working. Since August 1st the Rockies have held their opponent to three runs or less 17 times. That, to me, feels a lot better than the pitching performed early in the season. Before the All-Star break it seemed like whoever the starter was for the day they were going to allow four or five runs by themselves before they got the hook.
I wanted to take a look at how some of the key pieces of this new strategy have performed since June 19th when this decision was implemented and then also since August 1st – a date I picked completely arbitrarily because of feel. First up are the starting pitchers and I only used pitchers who pitched at least two starts on both sides of August 1st. After the starters we will check out the piggybackers (those pitchers who are first out of the bullpen after the starter hits his 75 pitch limit).
Since June 19th
- Jeff Francis: 17 GS, 83.1 IP (4.9 IP per start), 1308 pitches (76.9 pitches per start), 4.64 ERA, 1.356 WHIP
- Alex White: 10 GS, 39.1 IP (3.9 IP per start), 783 pitches (78.3 pitches per start), 5.03 ERA, 1.73 WHIP
- Drew Pomeranz: 13 GS, 57.2 IP (4.4 IP per start), 973 pitches (74.8 pitches per start), 4.84 ERA, 1.335 WHIP
- Tyler Chatwood: 11 G (8 GS all after August 1st), 5.26 ERA, 1.729 WHIP
Since August 1st
- Jeff Francis: 8 GS, 37.1 IP (4.66 IP per start), 625 pitches (78.1 pitches per start), 5.30 ERA, 1.580 WHIP
- Alex White: 8 GS, 33 IP (4.1 IP per start), 630 pitches (78.8 pitches per start), 3.55 ERA, 1.545 WHIP
- Drew Pomeranz: 8 GS, 32 IP (4 IP per start), 592 pitches (74 pitches per start), 4.50 ERA, 1.406 WHIP
- Tyler Chatwood: 8 GS, 34.1 IP (4.3 IP per start), 589 pitches (73.6 pitches per start), 4.46 ERA, 1.573 WHIP
What jumps out? First of all these are both really small sample sizes for pitchers. To get a good feel on a starting pitcher I would rather have a full season of work and 150 innings pitched or more. Most starting pitchers make 35 to 37 starts a year and at these rates the Rockies starting pitchers won’t touch 150 innings in a season going forward if the organization employs this strategy for an entire season.
Beyond that and for the point of this article, whatever that point may be, I don’t see much of a change. The stats since the 75 pitch inception and since August 1st look similar.
Looking at a pitchers WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) is a better indicator of how well he is pitching than ERA. Once a pitcher creeps over a 1.300 WHIP they start to get risky with runs and as you can see the Rockies starters are closer to a 1.500 WHIP which is downright bad. Sure White has an ERA under four since August 1st but the fact that he is allowing one and a half base runners per inning is worrisome.
Since June 19th
- Adam Ottovino: 28 G, 51.2 IP (1.8 IP per app), 863 pitches (30.8 pitches per app), 4.18 ERA, 1.297 WHIP
- Carlos Torres: 20 G, 37 IP (1.9 IP per app), 598 pitches (49.8 pitches per app), 4.14 ERA, 1.162 WHIP
- Guillermo Moscoso: 10 G, 16.2 IP (1.6 IP per app), 304 pitches (30.4 pitches per app), 6.48 ERA, 2.400 WHIP
- Josh Roenicke: 24 G, 41.2 IP (1.7 IP per app), 683 pitches (28.5 pitches per app), 2.81 ERA, 1.344 WHIP
Since August 1st
- Adam Ottovino: 12 G, 30.2 IP (2.5 IP per app), 482 pitches (40.2 pitches per app), 1.76 ERA, 2.583 WHIP
- Carlos Torres: 13 G, 25 IP (1.9 IP per app), 424 pitches (32.6 pitches per app), 6.12 ERA, 2.923 WHIP
- Guillermo Moscoso: 6 G, 10.1 IP (1.7 IP per app), 178 pitches (29.6 pitches per app), 3.48 ERA, 2.167 WHIP
- Josh Roenicke: 13 G, 21 IP (1.6 IP per app), 356 pitches (27.3 pitches per app), 3.86 ERA, 2.538 WHIP
And what do we see here? Look at those WHIPs!! Sure Ottovino has an ERA south of 2.00 but he allows two and a half base runners per inning pitched! That is atrocious. And the same can be said for the other pitchers.
My initial feeling was that the Rockies pitching has been better, but maybe they just ran into a really, really cold Atlanta Braves offense to start this week. Looking at the numbers this staff is still awful, just plain awful. Even if a pitcher only throws two innings every time he touches the mound (or just less than two) he cannot succeed allowing that many opposing batters to reach base. Sooner or later it will catch up and those innings in which two runners reach and he somehow weasels out of it will turn into five run innings.
Outside of Jhoulys Chacin (1.27 ERA since returning from the DL) the Rockies do not have a pitcher they should count on going into 2013 to start for the team.
Speaking of starting pitchers…
Since Jeremy Guthrie was traded to Kansas City, here are his stats: 10 GS, 3.23 ERA, 1.101 WHIP, 3.7:1 K:BB ratio and seven quality starts. Seven of his last eight outings have lasted six innings or more and six of his last seven have been seven innings or more. This includes outings against Texas (twice), Oakland, Detroit and the White Sox (twice) who are all potent offenses. This isn’t a Coors Field problem, it is a Rockies problem.
In his first full season with the Boston Red Sox Franklin Morales has thrown 76 1/3 innings for the Sox (with nine starts) and a 3.77 ERA. He has well over a 2:1 K:BB ratio with 76 K’s and 30 walks issued.
And Aaron Cook joined Morales on the Red Sox this year. Cook has had a few really poor starts, but in 14 games started he has thrown 76 2/3 innings with a 5.17 ERA. The ERA isn’t that great but what is really interesting about Cook’s season is that in those 76 2/3 innings he only has 16 strikeouts.
Ubaldo Jimenez is also having a rough time away from Colorado. He has made 28 starts this year for the Indians and currently leads the league in losses. In 161 1/3 innings pitched he has a 5.58 ERA and a 1.605 WHIP. He only has 134 strikeouts which is low for a guy who used to strikeout one per inning and this year he has 80 – EIGHTY – walks issued. Looks like his loss of control on 2011 was not Coors Field related either, he just started to suck.