The San Diego Padres were rolling into the month of July with the fourth-best record in baseball and the third-best record in the NL West. They were 16 games above .500 through the end of June with a record of 49-33. The Colorado Rockies, on the other hand, had the third-worst record in the National League at 34-47, 13 games below .500.
But since then, the tides have turned dramatically for the two franchises, particularly the San Diego Padres. The Padres have completed one of the most epic collapses in recent memory.
The Padres were eliminated from postseason play on Saturday night which made us think:
Are the Colorado Rockies a better team than the San Diego Padres?
Overall on the season, no, the Colorado Rockies are not a better team than the San Diego Padres.
With position player talent, are the Rockies a better team than the Padres? When healthy, the Padres are better.
But the Colorado Rockies are far superior in the pitching department and we all know the old adage “pitching wins games.”
Both teams have suffered a slew of injuries to their pitching staff but the numbers are clear: the Rockies have a better starting pitching staff, at least recently (stats per FanGraphs).
- Rockies starting pitching since June 1: 4.78 ERA, 100 ERA- (21st and 11th in that span)
- Padres starting pitching since June 1: 5.25, 130 ERA- (24th and 26th in that span)
- Rockies starters since July 1: 4.92 ERA, 103 ERA- (21st and 16th)
- Padres starters since July 1: 5.58 ERA, 139 ERA – (26th and 28th)
And believe it or not, when considering the parks pitched in (Petco Park being one of the most pitcher-friendly and Coors Field being one of the most hitter-friendly) with ERA- (100 is league average and lower is better), the Rockies bullpen has been better as well.
- Rockies bullpen since June 1: 99 ERA- (18th)
- Padres bullpen since June 1: 102 ERA- (21st)
- Rockies bullpen since July 1: 95 ERA- (15th)
- Padres bullpen since July 1: 103 ERA- (23rd)
But the better indication is their records since then.
Entering Sunday, the Padres have a record of 44-56 since June 1 and 29-44 since July 1.
Entering Sunday, the Rockies have a record of 51-49 since June 1 and 37-36 since July 1.
So the Colorado Rockies have a staggering seven-game lead on the Padres since June 1 and an eight-game lead since the beginning of July.
Since 2020 only had 60 games in the season, let’s check out their records in the last 60 games.
- Rockies last 60 games: 30-30 record
- Padres last 60 games: 23-37 record
So the Colorado Rockies would still have a seven-game lead on the San Diego Padres in that span as well.
Is this more of an indictment of the San Diego Padres or the Colorado Rockies playing better than expected? Personally, I believe it’s both. There were some optimists about the Rockies but you would have been laughed at if you said that the Rockies played .500 baseball (or better) since June.
People really thought you were crazy if you said that the Padres would be 12 games under .500 since June and 15 games under .500 since July.
For comparison, the Padres have had a .440 winning percentage since June and .397 winning percentage since July. For a 162-game season, those are comparable to a 71-91 season and a 64-98 season.
The Colorado Rockies had a .433 winning percentage in 2020 and .438 winning percentage in 2019. In other words, recently, the San Diego Padres have played as bad as or worse than the Rockies did in 2019 and 2020.
Are the Rockies better than the Padres overall? When each team is healthy, probably not. However, their current stretch of play may be a learning experience for the Padres. They desperately need to address their pitching staff this offseason and heads may roll (like Padres manager Jayce Tingler’s).
Colorado Rockies fans have not shed any tears about the Padres missing the playoffs and they won’t be shedding any tears when changes come to the Padres organization in the near future.