Colorado Rockies: The 5 Best Storylines So Far This Season

Jun 24, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; General view of a Colorado Rockies banner during a sunset over Coors Field in the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; General view of a Colorado Rockies banner during a sunset over Coors Field in the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Colorado Rockies scoreboard with sunset
Jul 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of the sunset in the sixth inning of the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Welcome back to the second edition of Purple Monday. The Colorado Rockies showed some signs of life this weekend against the Phillies but, in the end, the fireworks may have been the best part of the weekend, with a disastrous 10-3 loss to close out the first half of the season on Sunday.

With the All-Star break upon us, let’s look into the five biggest storylines so far this season for the Rockies.

“New” members of the rotation

Tyler Chatwood returning from his second Tommy John surgery and the inclusion of Tyler Anderson and Jon Gray for (essentially) the whole season has been one of the biggest stories for the Rockies so far. We had hopes for Gray, but no one knew what to expect from Chatwood after missing over a year, and Anderson was hardly even on the radar coming into this year.

Let’s start with Chatwood. I have always liked him a lot, but was nervous to see how he would return after his second round of Tommy John surgery. He came out strong in spring training and has been able to put together one of the best first halves that a Rockies pitcher has had in a long time. He has compiled an ERA of 3.08 over 90.2 innings and earned nine quality starts. Perhaps the most impressive thing so far for Chatwood is his ability to get outs despite his low strikeout rate, of 15.4%. He makes up for this by letting guys hit the ball, but making sure they are down in the zone leading to ground balls. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is 1.43, way up from his career average of 1.17 and nearly double the league average of 0.83.

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With his relatively low strikeout rate in mind, his K:BB ratio is an impressive 1.73, showing just how rarely he gives the batter a free pass.

He has been especially lights out on the road, with an ERA of 1.30, which ranks him third-best in the league. If the Rockies hitters are going to be criticized for their splits at Coors Field, then Chatwood deserves more national attention for the first half he has put together despite pitching half of his games at Coors Field (above stats prior to Sunday’s game).

Gray is supposed to be the best pitcher in recent Rockies history and he has certainly looked like this could be a reality at times so far this season. He has an ERA of 4.67 at this point, which is inflated secondary to a couple of rough starts but for the most part he has been lights out.

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He is my favorite pitcher to watch because he just makes batters look silly. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing guys head back to the dugout shaking their head and this is something the Gray is able to do frequently. His K:BB ratio is 3.14 and is averaging more than one strikeout per inning.

Especially exciting for Gray is his performance at Coors Field as his stats are basically the same regardless of where he pitches. Also impressive is that he continues to improve. In April, his ERA was 11.42 in only two starts and has decreased each month since then. He sat at 3.77 for June and is below that, at 3.65 through his two starts so far in July.

Jon dazzled in his final start, one ruined by some questionable bullpen management, but Gray was able to pitch into the seventh inning, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out eight. Although Gray was charged with two runs, they both scored on a home run that Jake McGee allowed after replacing Gray with two runners on. I am excited to see Gray continue to progress over the second half of this year.

Tyler Anderson is a bit of a surprise this year for the Rockies, although he maybe shouldn’t be. He was our first-round pick in 2011 and has dominated at every level. The only reason we haven’t seen him earlier is some bad luck with injuries. Now he seems to be healthy and has been a key contributor for the Rockies.

His record of 1-3 doesn’t tell the whole story. He has only allowed 12 earned runs in six starts, and the main problem has been a lack of any run support. The Rockies have only provided him with an average of four runs per game in games he has started. Nine of these came in the wild series against the Diamondbacks in a game the Rockies bullpen gave up eight in a losing effort. This means the Rockies have only given him an average of three runs per game in his other five starts.

Anderson, clearly tired of the lack of run support, took matters into his own hands Saturday and clubbed a 2 run homer to right field against the Phillies, Saturday. The offense followed his lead and produced eight runs in all to earn Anderson his first major league win. Here’s to hoping for many more of these after the break.

Next: The Rookie Who Has Made National Headlines