Rockies week in review: Starting pitching has Colorado streaking

Colorado got good outings from everyone as it completed a 5-1 homestand.

CHRISTIAN-lighter
Jorge De La Rosa prepares to pitch for the Colorado Rockies vs. the New York Yankees on June 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Jorge De La Rosa prepares to pitch for the Colorado Rockies vs. the New York Yankees on June 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Being a starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies is a little like being a fireman whose only tool to put out blazes is a watering hose. The thin Coors Field air means Rockies’ throwers start at a massive disadvantage. Routine outfield fly balls often carry into the seats for home runs. Breaking pitches that are supposed to go left, right, up and down have a tendency to travel straight.

So it’s rare when a Rockies’ starting pitching staff puts together a week like this.

Colorado played five games over the course of the last seven days. It went 4-1 in those contests — all at the big, green and purple pinball machine that is Coors Field — thanks largely to its starting pitchers.

Check out their lines:

  • G1: Jon Gray — 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR
  • G2: Tyler Chatwood — 6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
  • G3: Tyler Anderson — 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 0 HR
  • G4: Jorge De La Rosa — 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR
  • G5: Chad Bettis — 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 HR

Pretty darn good.

De La Rosa made his first start Thursday since being relegated to the bullpen in late May and pitched well. He seems to have bounced back since that Terrible, No Good, Very Bad start to the year, with just one earned run in his last 13 innings. Great news for the Rockies, if that’s the case.

Chatwood (2.89 ERA) continues to pitch like an ace, and Gray has been nothing but solid in his rookie season. Those two and De La Rosa could form a nice 1-2-3 punch if they keep this up.

Anderson was perhaps the biggest surprise of the week. He dazzled in his first MLB start, so much so that Rockies manager Walt Weiss had no choice but to let him take the hill again Sunday.

The Rockies left for a four-game set with Miami as the winners in 8 of their last 10 games. They’ve climbed back to just a game under .500 (32-33) after completing a 5-1 homestand. As the team prepared to board the plane for a six-game road trip, morale seemed to be pretty high.

Quote of the week

“We’re in a pretty good place. I feel like this team is going to get better as the year goes on, which has not been the trend the past few years.” — Rockies manager Walt Weiss

Nick Hundley winds up at the plate against the New York Yankees at Coors Field on June 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Nick Hundley winds up at the plate against the New York Yankees at Coors Field on June 14, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Base hits

Expect Ryan Raburn to get the majority of the starts in left field with Gerardo Parra sidelined. Parra had to be carted off the field Tuesday after shortstop Trevor Story dove for a fly ball in the outfield and accidentally rolled over Parra’s leg. The diagnosis was a sprained left ankle, and Parra was placed on the 15-day DL. Raburn has appeared in 49 games this season and is batting .257 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.

D.J. LeMahieu continues to have a quietly stellar year. The Rockies’ 27-year-old second baseman is slashing .340/.429/.617 with six doubles, two triples and a home run in June, while also playing his usual stellar defense. There aren’t many second baseman with LeMahieu’s athleticism. This catch and tag to end the game against the Padres was a thing of beauty. It’s easy to forget about LeMahieu with the guys to his right (Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story) and the guy behind him (Carlos Gonzalez) having big years, but you shouldn’t. He’s been brilliant this season.

The Rockies drafted two flamethrowers with their first two picks of the MLB Draft. Colorado nabbed high school kid Riley Pint, who’s been clocked at 102 mph, at No. 4, and it got Robert Tyler, a righty out of Georgia who throws in the upper 90s, at 38. That made Michael Baumann of The Ringer wonder whether it was an attempt for Colorado to solve its pitching woes at Coors Field. Breaking balls aren’t as effective in the mile-high air, as explained above in this column. So maybe the strategy is to get guys who can just blow batters away. Something worth pondering.