Early Signs Look Good for Colorado Rockies

Bob LockeContributor IApril 17, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 13:  Brad Hawpe #11 of the Colorado Rockies bats against the Chicago Cubs during the Opening Day game on April 13, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Rockies 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Rockies departed Chicago with an even 4-4 record to open the season. While that may sound pretty pedestrian, I would argue otherwise. Consider the following:

The Rockies have outscored the opposition 44-35 over the first eight games. Extend that over a full season, and you're looking at a run differential of +182. For reference, the Red Sox were +210 in '07 when they won 96 games and beat the Rockies in the World Series.

How are they scoring all these runs? They're hitting .295 with runners in scoring position, compared to just .236 overall. Spilborghs, Helton, and Hawpe each have batting averages below .260, but they also each have 4 RBI without a HR. Garrett Atkins has tallied 2 HR and 5 RBI—on just six hits.

At 4.11 pitches per plate appearance, the Rockies lead the entire NL. Opposing starters have totalled 39.2 IP and 735 pitches. On average, it's taking a starter 92 pitches to get through five innings of work against the Rockies' lineup. That's a recipe for sustained success.

Don Baylor is looking like the best pickup of the winter at the moment.

Even with ugly outings from Cook and De la Rosa, the combined ERA for the starters is 4.38. I was hoping for an aggregate around 4.25, and they've basically delivered that so far. I'd like to see them average a couple of more outs per game, though, as they aren't going much deeper than the opposition's starters at this point.

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The pitching staff as a whole has posted an ERA+ of 111, putting them solidly on the right side of that particular line. A little worrisome is the 46 Ks to 28 BBs through 8 games. That's not a bad ratio, but it's enough below the league average to cause concern.

All in all, I'm very happy with the overall play of the club in the early going, Huston Street notwithstanding. The next two series, three games at LA followed by three at Arizona, should tell us a lot about where this team really is.


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