The Colorado Rockies Are Legitimate Contenders
Heading into a weekend series against the Dodgers last week, the surprisingly red hot Rockies held a game and a half lead over the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. The Dodgers and Rockies ended up splitting the weekend four-game series and the Rockies held on to their lead in the NL West.
Well, 41 games into the season, the Rockies are showing no signs of letting up and have extended their division lead over the Dodgers to 3 games. It’s really uncanny for this team to be producing this way based on the fact that they rank in the middle tier in offense and pitching team totals. Yet, the Rockies hold not only the best record in the NL West but are also tied for the best record in the National League with the Washington Nationals.
Coming into play today, the Rockies rank 11th in the MLB in offensive runs scored, 14th in team ERA, and 4th in team fielding percentage. Those are pretty modest rankings for a team that has a top three record in all of baseball. So I’m starting to wonder if there is some regression coming for Colorado and whether this team is a contender or pretender to make a run at the NL West crown?
If you’re asking me, I’m penciling them in as a contender. With the addition of Bud Black over the offseason, he’s really been able to get the young Rockies pitching staff to rally around the team, and that has been a big part of their success early on. The seasonal outlook for the Rockies year in and year out has always been “well they can hit, but do they have any pitching.” Well, at least through the first two months of the season it appears they have enough.
While their 14th ranked ERA isn’t anything to alarm the presses about, it’s a sign of improvement. Last season they had a team ERA just below 5.00. This season their ERA is 4.31 that’s nearly a run per nine innings of improvement. So it helps explain their best start in franchise history.
With an improved pitching staff and an always dangerous offense, this team has the talent to contend in the National League. That being said, their pitching staff is still young and should regress, so beating the Dodgers out for the NL West crown is unlikely. But I can very well see this team actively looking to buy pitching around the trade deadline to get into their first postseason since 2009.