Purple Monday: A Closer Look into Tyler Anderson’s Success for the Colorado Rockies

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Aug 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies fans hang over a wall during a break in the in the fifth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies fans hang over a wall during a break in the in the fifth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Happy Purple Monday Rockies fans! The purple team is in the midst of one of the biggest home stands of the year. So far they have gone 3-3, taking a series from the Dodgers and losing one to the Marlins over the weekend. It was a great game Sunday from a baseball fan as Ichiro hit a triple to earn his 3,000th hit, but a very rough game as a Colorado Rockies fan as Jon Gray gave up eight earned runs.

Tonight the Texas Rangers will be welcomed to Coors Field for the first of two games before the Rockies return the favor and travel to Arlington for two more. Before watching these games I want to talk about some of the recent happenings in what is an exciting season for the Colorado Rockies. Lets get into it:

Tyler Anderson: Jon Gray has quite reasonably been the talk of the town for the Rockies this year, but I think that has been distracting us from just how good Tyler Anderson has been so far in his rookie campaign. He is now has completed 10 starts with his 11th coming tonight. He is having a truly remarkable year, especially considering his long path to the big leagues. His season stats are below:

61.0 IP 22 ER 3.25 ERA 52 SO 12 BB

Obviously, these are very successful numbers. I have heard some arguments that Anderson has been lucky with the clubs he has faced. So I wanted to look into this, below are his opponents, earned runs allowed when he faced them, along with that team’s runs per game average and where that ranks them in terms of runs scored this year.

OpponentER allowedRuns/gameRank
Padres14.46T-14th
Marlins24.3020th
D’Backs24.4317th
Blue Jays24.786th
Giants34.46T-14th
Phillies23.7028th
Rays44.0026th
Braves33.5630th
Mets13.7229th
Dodgers24.3618th

Based on this Anderson has seen relatively weak offenses with an average rank of 20.2, showing that he has been slightly lucky with who he is facing. However, seven of his 10 starts have taken place at Coors Field so that could be considered to offset this weakness.  His ERA at Coors Field is 3.32, which is lower than any other Rockies starter by more than a run.

Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

So how is Anderson succeeding, especially with a majority of his starts coming at Coors Field? The answer seems to be that he is limiting fly balls. Anderson is producing ground balls more often than fly balls…by a lot. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is 1.26, whereas the league average is 0.84. This ratio balloons when looking at ground ball outs versus fly ball outs, with Anderson’s ratio here being 1.89 (league average of 1.13).

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This has long been the hypothesized formula to succeed at Coors Field and Anderson’s success definitely speaks to that. It is also possible that Tyler could be getting lucky in terms of BAbip (Batting average on balls in play) since he has a relatively small sample size with only 10 starts. This does not seem to be the case, however, as his BAbip is .335 compared to league norms of .299.

It seems inevitable for pitching at Coors to increase a pitcher’s BAbip slightly so it is not surprising to see this is the case for Tyler as well. A recent article by Mike Petriello illustrates (better than I can) Anderson is able to prevent the opponent from hitting the ball hard. He currently has the lowest exit velocity against in the league at 85.3 MPH per Statcast. His recent success is starting to get him some impressive comparisons with an excellent article on Fangraphs discussing (better than I can) some reasons behind his success.

Gerardo Parra’s Return: Parra returned to the field for the Rockies Sunday taking the place of Carlos Gonzalez in right field. It appeared to simply be a day off for CarGo after rolling his ankle last week. However, taking CarGo’s bat of the lineup in a huge game against the Marlins speaks to the challenge now facing Walt Weiss. The Rockies have too many outfielders now having added rookie phenom David Dahl with Parra on the DL.

Dahl cannot be sent down after his dominating his first 13 games. Now, the Rockies have a great deal of outfield depth, perhaps too much, with five now on the roster. My vote would be to slide Parra into a role as a 4th outfielder, and having Ryan Raburn as a pinch hitter. In my opinion, taking Blackmon, Dahl or Gonzalez out of the lineup will result in losing too much offensive firepower. Each player’s slashline (BA/OBP/SLUG) below proves the Parra provides the least production in a big way.

Blackmon: .305/.366/.475

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

CarGo: .321/.371/.565

Dahl: .370/.393/.593

Parra: .263/.274/.421

Walt Weiss will definitely try to keep Parra involved with a start or two a week but I think it will be a challenge for him to find places to slip Parra into the lineup with how hot our three other outfielders are.

Movement on the Farm: Over the weekend there were a number of exciting promotions on the farm. If you missed them, here they are:

Promoted to the Albuquerque Isotopes:

Raimel Tapia

German Marquez

Pat Valaika

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Matt Carasati

Tapia and Marquez are huge promotions as it signals that they could be called up to the Rockies when the roster expands in September, which would be extremely exciting. Both were dominating for the Yard Goats and definitely earned the promotions.

The ‘Topes rotation features a large amount of talent with Marquez joining other top prospects, Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland and Eddie Butler. As we all know Tapia can hit, and was leading the Eastern League with an average of .323 when he was called up.

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Valaika is a shortstop that is not as highly regarded of a prospect and may just be filling in for the Isotopes who just placed SS Jeff Bianchi on the DL. Carasati was not promoted as recently as the other three but after a very successful run as the Yard Goat’s closer he was promoted to Triple-A and has continued to thrive. He has pitched 6.0 innings so far not allowing a run. He could be called up to bolster the Rockies bullpen late in the season, if needed.

Promoted to the Hartford Yard Goats:

Yency Almonte

Omar Carrizales

Almonte, who was acquired in a trade for Tommy Kahnle, has been dominating for the Modesto Nuts and will take the place of Marquez in the Hartford rotation. For the Nuts he had started 22 games compiling an ERA of 3.71. Carrizales is an outfielder, and will likely slide into Tapia’s spot for the Goats. He was hitting .294 in 96 games for the Nuts. It is a big jump for both of these prospects and will be a true test for them, but if they continue to excel they will be part of the next wave of Rockies call-ups.

Next: How Much is Arenado Worth to the Colorado Rockies?

The Rockies find themselves 4.0 games out of the Wild Card after a tough weekend series. The Rangers have the best record in the American League, and will be looking to show off their recent additions Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy. It is another big series for the Rockies who have Tyler Anderson set to take the mound for today’s Purple Monday game. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. from Coors Field.

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