Memo For The Colorado Rockies: Pitching, Not Offense Wins Playoff Games


Okay, the title can be a little bit deceiving but you all get the point — pitching is a huge part of baseball and key for advancing to not only the postseason, but deep in the playoffs as well. However, the Rockies have been the complete opposite during their existence in Major League Baseball.

Everyone remembers the Blake Street Bombers — Dante Bichette, Ellis Burks, Vinny Castilla, Andres Galarraga and Larry Walker. Those guys would obliterate the ball day-in and day-out at 20th and Blake, yet only made one playoff appearance with such a potent offense back in 95′. Colorado ended up losing in the 1995 National League Division Series to the Atlanta Braves, three games to one.

One thing the Braves had over the Rockies at the time — pitching, and lots of it. This is what every Rockies’ fan has been preaching for the longest time.

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Today’s Colorado Rockies team is orchestrated around the same philosophy, yet we continue to see the same results year-in and year-out. Colorado has a lineup that can compete with just about every Major League team. We are talking players such as Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, Justin Morneau, Corey Dickerson etc. Consistency is a hard thing to have in the game of baseball but Colorado’s offense featured themselves in the top-five in National League offense in both runs and batting average yet again.

Offense has never been the problem for Colorado, pitching has. Remember the disastrous free-agent signings of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle? Never forget. Ever since then, Colorado has shied away from free-agent pitchers — not the bad ones however. The Rockies, under new general manager Jeff Bridich, have attempted to move away from that trend.

Colorado traded fan-favorite and All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki this past season to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for three pitching prospects; Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco. Those three players added more depth to an already deep farm system, ranked No. 4, No. 10 and No. 18 respectively.

Colorado’s prized pitching prospect, Jon Gray, made his MLB debut this past season which was a breath of fresh air. It was a bumpy ride for the Oklahoma native, yet he showed signs of what could be for years to come. We all know he has an overpowering fastball, but his wipeout slider is a thing of beauty. If he can continue to develop and master his changeup, Gray might become a household name in the Majors very soon.

It’s not the fact that Colorado hasn’t tried to adapt pitching into the Mile High City, it’s just that they have basically all failed. Draft picks such as Matt Harrington, Greg Reynolds, Casey Weathers and Chaz Roe have derailed any kind of hope for a successful rotation. Now the new wave of draft picks, Tyler Matzek, Tyler Anderson, Eddie Butler and Rex Brothers either find themselves in the Minors still, or splitting time back and forth with the big club.

The problem with the draft is the development process as a whole. I’m not sure if we will ever figure out if it’s the Rockies who can’t help these kids flourish, the Coors Field effect, or simply the players overthinking about Coors Field itself.

As for the Rockies as a whole, they have their work cut out for them this offseason, whether it’s continuing the rebuild by trading Carlos Gonzalez, or simply standing pat and letting the rest take care of itself like usual.