Rockies: The Young Shall Inherit the Mound

The Rockies were impressed with the emergence of their youthful rotation a year ago.

Cynics, however, warned that trouble could be looming in 2018. The Rockies, after all, had four rookies in the rotation at times. The young arms, however, have been laughing at the alleged Sophomore Jinx.

The 2018 season is only 35 games old, but the Rockies are 20-15 despite an offense that is hitting .228 with an on-base percentage of .306. Why? Well, start with the starters.

Yes, the average age if 26 years, 151 days. Chad Bettis is the graybeard, and he is only 29 years, 11 days old.  

"I think these young guys pitched really well last year and I was hoping it would transfer to this year," said manager Bud Black. "So far it has. We have some really impressive young arms and there are more coming."

Impressive? They will open a two-game series against the Angels at Coors Field with an ERA of 3.05 for the rotation. Only once in the Rockies previous 25 years of existence have the Rockies finished a season with an ERA below 4.00.

For Starters

Season W L Pct ERA AVG
2018 8 5 0.615 3.05 0.224
2002 18 14 0.563 3.78 0.244
2007 17 15 0.531 4.1 0.263
1998 24 20 0.545 4.19 0.271
2016 20 14 0.588 4.35 0.269
2011 15 18 0.455 4.38 0.257
2012 15 22 0.405 4.5 0.286
2009 17 16 0.515 4.53 0.283
2010 16 18 0.471 4.54 0.266
2001 15 17 0.469 4.56 0.269

Source: Stats, Inc.

Chad Bettis has set the pace this year, showing no lingering affects from his battle with testicular cancer. All five, however, have made impressive contributions. Jon Gray, who struggled initially, has put together back-to-back dominating starts, in which he has allowed only one run.

Steady Rotation

Pitchers Age Record ERA Team QS
Chad Bettis 29 years, 11 days 4-1 2.05 5-2 4 5th lowest ERA NL
Tyler Anderson 28 years, 128 days 2-0 3.78 5-2 4 2-0, 2.37 ERA last 4 GS
Jon Gray 26 years, 183 days 3-4 4.99 3-4 3 2-0, 0.69 ERA last 2 GS
Kyle Freeland 24 years, 356 days 2-4 3.95 3-4 4 3.51 ERA 21 app Coors
German Marquez 23 years, 74 days 2-3 4.78 4-3 3 5 ER total in 5 starts

The Rockies have made 18 quality starts in 35 games, equaling the third highest total in the first 35 games of a season in franchise history, according to Baseball-reference.com. The Rockies had 20 quality starts in their first 35 games in 1994, 19 in 2009 and also had 18 in 2011. 

They have had a quality start in a club record-tying eight consecutive games going into Tuesday, and had a quality start in 10 of their last 11 games, the only exception being when Tyler Anderson retired four batters at Miami on April 27 but felt light-headed and was removed from the game.

Quality Work Last 11 Games

Starter Date Opp W L IP H R ER BB SO
Freeland 4/24/2018 SD 1 0 7 3 0 0 2 8
Gray 4/25/2018 SD 1 0 6 3 0 0 1 11
*Anderson 4/27/2018 Mia 0 0 1.1 1 0 0 1 1
Marquis 4/28/2018 Mia 0 1 6 6 3 1 3 6
Bettis 4/29/2018 Mia 0 1 7 4 2 2 1 5
Freeland 4/30/2018 ChC 0 1 7 6 3 3 1 5
Gray 5/1/2018 ChC 1 0 7 3 1 1 1 6
Anderson 5/2/2018 ChC 1 0 7 3 2 2 1 9
Marquis 5/4/2018 NYM 1 0 6 6 2 2 0 8
Bettis 5/5/2018 NYM 1 0 7 6 0 0 1 2
Freeland 5/6/2018 NYM 1 0 7 4 2 2 1 8
*-Ailment 7 3 68.1 47 45 13 13 69
Source: Stats, Inc.

Freeland allowed two runs in the first inning on Sunday, but allowed only one hit and on walk in the next six innings.

"I got punched in the mouth," said Freeland. "Every game you learn something about yourself, and something about your game. Today was one of those games. Tony (Wolters, catcher) and I did a good job of responding and work with my strength. We kept throwing them off balance and stuck to our game plan."

And, Freeland said, a big part of the of the rotation is the success each starter is having.

"We feed off each other," he said. "Every day someone is trying to one-up another guy from the day before. It starts in spring training when you are battling for a (rotation) spot. And it continues into the season. You constantly have that competitive mode, not only against teams, but also the other team."

That even goes into each game. It is interesting that the Rockies pitchers have given up more runs in the first inning of a game than any other, according to Baseball-reference.com, a sign the starters make those adjustments Freeland talked about.

1st Things 1st

Inning # None Any 1 2 3 4 ≥5 Most Total
1 35 22 13 4 4 2 2 1 5 31
2 35 30 5 5 0 0 0 0 1 5
3 35 29 6 4 2 0 0 0 2 8
4 35 27 8 6 0 1 0 1 5 14
5 35 23 12 7 3 2 0 0 3 19
6 35 22 13 7 1 3 1 1 7 29
7 35 26 9 4 1 3 0 1 9 24
8 35 28 7 3 2 2 0 0 3 13
9 27 21 6 4 1 1 0 0 3 9
10 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 308 229 79 44 14 14 3 4 9 152