Here are some Colorado Rockies notes as they prepare to meet the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s already been an interesting year to put it mildly for Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Austin Gomber.
And yes, purposely using the word “year” instead of “season” in that opening paragraph because of the whirlwind that has been 2021 for the 27-year-old left-hander and the Rockies.
Of course, Gomber, who will start on Thursday in the series finale against the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, started spring training most known as part of the Nolan Arenado trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. He then started the actual season with seven walks in three innings in his Coors Field debut.
Yes, there has been plenty to talk about when it comes to Gomber, but lost in all of that has been a southpaw who has also found early success when he forces the batter to put the ball in play.
Sure it’s two starts in, but Gomber currently owns the fourth-lowest hard hit percentage in Major League Baseball at 22.7 percent. That’s down almost 11 percent from last season and it’s also part of the reason why Gomber has only given up two hits in 9.1 innings of work.
"“It could be a plethora of different reasons, but I think part of it is probably that I’m not reliant on one pitch. It’s going to be spread around if you look at the percentages,” Gomber said on Wednesday. “Pitches throughout my arsenal are going to be separated a lot more than a lot of other guys.”"
Through two starts, according to Baseball Savant, Gomber has thrown his fastball just under half the time, but his curveball, changeup, and slider are hovering between 13 and 20 percent usage.
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Rockies manager Bud Black thinks Gomber’s pitch mix has played a role in his early success.
"“It’s more a factor of his mix of pitches, he has four,” Black said. “I think his mix of pitches is probably the reason why you’re seeing not a lot of hard-hit balls, exit velocity, and whatever in these two starts, but you know the potential is there to retain those sorts of numbers.”"
Of course, Black said the key to Gomber’s success is to keep throwing strikes and avoid the walks that have not only plagued him but the rest of Colorado’s pitchers as well in the early going. Entering Wednesday’s game in Los Angeles, the Rockies had surrendered a league-high 56 walks.
"“He has to get the ball in the strike zone a little more consistently because I think his stuff plays,” Black said."
With the Rockies struggling to score and having a 3-8 record with two more games in Los Angeles before coming home for a weekend series against the New York Mets, Black said he is watching to make sure his roster doesn’t get “too discouraged too early, because it’s a long year.”
That includes younger players like Josh Fuentes, who is 2-for-14 on the current road trip, and Dom Nunez, who is 1-for-6 with four strikeouts on the current voyage through California. It even pertains to veterans like C.J. Cron, who is 1-for-20 with two walks and 11 strikeouts over his last six games since reaching base in each of the first three games of the season.
"“We have some guys who are off to slow starts and I don’t want them to beat themselves up and have that affect their performance,” Black said. “I just don’t want them to beat themselves up to the point where it’s affecting their performance, and there’s a fine line there.”"