There’s an old saying in sports: defense wins championships. In baseball, defense is part of the game, but in this reference it’s pitching (along with a good defense) that wins championships. Either way, that doesn’t bode well for the 2012 version of the Colorado Rockies (or any version of the Colorado Rockies since their inception in 1993).
The Rockies defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 Friday night in the first game of a three game set. If the Rockies are going to make a run at the playoffs this year, they’ll have to win a lot of games the same way they did Friday night; by scoring more runs than the other team. Okay, I’m kidding, they obviously need to score more than the other team to win games. But the real point here is that they’ll have to win games by scoring 7 or more runs.
The Rockies have a good lineup that will keep them in a lot of games. The problem is their pitching, namely their starting rotation. Although Jamie Moyer can still pitch a decent game at the major league level at 49 years old, you know your rotation is less than spectacular when your local batting cages pitch faster than Moyer. You also know you’re desperate for some starting pitching when you have a pitcher starting for you who began his career before the Berlin Wall was taken down. I don’t mean to rag on Moyer, but it’s too fun not to.
Aside from Moyer, the starting rotation has other holes in it too. The Rockies have lots of young pitchers who need to pitch to their potential for this team to go anywhere this year. Juan Nicasio has shown flashes of quality stuff in his limited time with the major league club, but Friday night’s performance can’t become the norm. It took him 44 pitches to get out of the 1st inning and left the game before completing 3 innings with 91 pitches thrown. Even if he is able to wiggle out of jams and limit damage, too many pitches will wear down the bullpen.
The lack of quality in the starting rotation puts added pressure on the lineup. Having to feel like you have to score a lot of runs to win a game is not always the best feeling. When you add to that the fact that they haven’t been hitting lefties well to start the season, it makes it tough to win ball games. But back to my original statement: defense wins championships. If the pitching isn’t always going to be on, you have to make sure you play solid defense to build pitchers’ confidence. The Rockies have been kicking the ball around thus far and it’s hurting the team. In the case of Moyer’s last start on Thursday against the San Francisco Giants, Dexter Fowler dropped a routine fly ball that extended the inning. Eventually Moyer couldn’t get out of the 6thand the Giants tacked on two more runs that inning because of the error. The Giants won the game 4-2. Every run surrendered matters, and errors only make it more difficult for these pitchers to do their job well.
In the meantime, it will be fun to watch this team. Although I personally love a good pitchers’ duel, offense sells tickets. Watching these hitters mash the ball to keep their team in games will make for some high-scoring excitement.
About the Author
Written by Steve Folsom
Sports has always been my passion in life. I enjoy all sports but baseball is by far my favorite. I bring an analytical perspective to my sports consumption. Follow me on Twitter @Steven_Folsom.