Bob Apodaca has not been able to successfully teach Rockies pitchers how to pitch at altitude
Bob Apodaca needs to be held accountable for his part in the Colorado Rockies' recent failures.
One of the things the Rockies have consistently been missing out on during the franchise's 19 years of existence is dominant pitching. Year in and year out, promising talent comes up through the farm system and every year, these pitchers never reach a successful level.
Think of all the pitchers over the years that have shown so much potential while they were out there on the mound—only to have mediocre stats even at their best.
Ubaldo Jimenez has been the only one to become dominant, for a mere four months in 2010, before he slipped back down into the underachieving hard-hurler role he still plays with Cleveland. And though Jimenez currently has a 5.31 ERA with the Indians, he would still be one of the top starting pitchers with the Rockies, behind Christian Friedrich (4.50 ERA) and Juan Nicasio (5.28 ERA).
It's easily more than just an area of concern when the best ERA among your starting pitchers is half a run below five. Thankfully, the Rockies offense have supported Friedrich during his starts, giving him a 4-1 record, but we can't hope for the offense to bail out the pitching game after game after game.
While the Ubaldo trade may be too recent to judge, the prospects the Rockies received have not panned out as promised. Both Alex White and Drew Pomeranz have struggled during their short tenures with the Rockies, with a combined record of 5-11 and career ERAs above five.
And while the Rockies thought they were getting someone who could eat up a bunch of innings in former Orioles ace Jeremy Guthrie, they gave up current Orioles win-loss and ERA leader Jason Hammel (6-2 and 2.90, respectively).
Hammel is doing that in the notoriously tough AL East, while Guthrie (3-4, 6.35) can't hold a lead in the usually offensively challenged NL West.
Altitude does play its part in pitching in the Mile High City. No one said it was easy. The thinner air takes away movement from the ball. Pitchers will tell you that contributes to home runs moreso than the ball flying farther in the thin air.
Knowing that, you need to know how to pitch at altitude. And who has been with the Rockies for enough time that he should know how to pitch at altitude?
Now, pitching coach Apodaca shouldn't be held accountable for every bad pitcher the Rockies have ever had, but he does need to be held accountable for the continuous mediocrity that has taken the mound at Coors Field.
Rockies pitchers currently hold a 5.65 ERA at home and have a 4.69 ERA on the road. Neither number is impressive, as their overall ERA (5.24) is dead last in the MLB.
Opposing batters are also hitting nearly .300 against the Rockies, with an official average of .295, making the Rockies pitchers the most hittable this season.
Yes, 2012 has been a much worse year for Rockies pitching than normal, but pitching has been a spot that has needed improvement for years. It's not just in 2012 that has been horrendous for those on the mound.
Each year, the Rockies continue to downplay the importance of having good pitching and continuously focus on upgrading the offense to make up for it.
But in the MLB, good pitching will always trump good hitting. The Rockies offense ranks in the top ten for runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage this season—numbers that should translate to wins.
But pitching has held them back tremendously.
And as continuously bad as the pitching has been over the years, there's only one man that should be held accountable for it.