|Watch out! Here come the Rockies|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on September 25, 2007
Following a sweep of the San Diego Padres and a few losses by the Phillies, the Rockies find themselves only 1.5 games out of the Wild Card and with six games left to play, there’s no reason that they shouldn’t try to go for broke.
That’s something that sets this team apart from more than a decade’s worth of Rockies teams. And while the team still hasn’t learned the secret of negating the effects of rarified air on a pitched baseball, they haven’t fared badly on the mound at all. A quick look at the pitching statistics might make you do a double take. The Rockies aren’t in the bottom 5 of the National League in terms of ERA; in fact they aren’t even in the bottom half.
A 4.35 ERA wouldn’t be considered outstanding anywhere outside of Colorado but for the Rockies and their front office it’s a symbol of success and a statement that opponents will have to stop this team, because Coors Field won’t hold them down.
And holding them down has been the key to the pitching success. The Rockies have focused on developing and acquiring pitchers that throw sinker balls and induce ground outs. Couple that with the National League’s best defense (64 errors committed over 155 games) and you have a recipe for success that puts a smile on the face of Jeff Francis and every other Rockies’ starter.
But more importantly it puts a lot more games back in the hands of the offense, and the offense is flying a mile high, for sure. In the National League, only the Phillies have scored more runs than the Rockies. Up and down the lineup the Rockies feature big hitters like Matt Holliday with his .337 average and 36 home runs, Brad Hawpe (.286, 27 HR), Rookie of the Year candidate Troy Tulowitzki (.292, 22 HR), Garret Atkins (.293, 23 HR) and Todd Helton (.316, 15 HRs). Arguably that’s one of the best lineups in MLB, even if the team didn’t play at Coors Field.
The Rockies have a lot to be proud of, no matter what happens the rest of the way. They have put together a great season and paved the foundation for years to come. Still this team isn’t ready to settle for that, not when the Wild Card is within their grasp.
With just six games left in their schedule they have a tough task that involves going through the LA Dodgers and facing the Diamondbacks at home. But they have reasons to be confident - the Dodgers are all but mathematically dead and they won’t risk major injury to star players for no reason, and the Diamondbacks should be resting for the playoffs by the time Thursday rolls around.
So, watch out and don’t forget that these Rockies can hit AND pitch.