Pitching in the thin air at Coors Field is not easy to do, not even with the involvement of the humidor the team adopted a few years ago. But even factoring in the high degree of difficulty, the starting pitchers for the Colorado Rockies this season have been absolutely nightmarishly terrible.
Through games on June 11th, Colorado's starters are the not so proud owners of a 6.17 ERA. As I am sure you deduced, that is easily the worst mark in all of baseball. Due to injuries and general ineffectiveness, Colorado has already had to use 10 different starting pitchers, including the recently released 49-year old Jamie Moyer.
Their "best" starting pitcher thus far has been Drew Pomeranz who owns a 4.70 ERA. Naturally, the Rockies demoted Pomeranz to the minors a month ago. After that, the other nine starters they have used all own ERAs of 5.28 or higher. There is no descriptive hyperbole needed to make the point here because those numbers speak for themselves.
The real issue at the heart of this though isn't that pitching at Coors Field is hard, we all know that already. The problem is that Colorado management seemed to ignore it when constructing their rotation this last off-season. Since the Colorado Rockies came into existence, they have been trying to find a pitcher profile that can achieve sustained success in the unfriendly pitching environment that is Denver. During their stretch from 2007 through 2009, which included an NL pennant and another post-season appearance, the Rox relied upon a staff featuring pitchers who either kept the ball on the ground or missed a lot of bats. It seemed like it was working, but management decided otherwise.
This last off-season, Colorado's front office decided to makeover the rotation in the almost exact opposite image. They brought several pitchers like Jeremy Guthrie, Guillermo Moscoso, Tyler Chatwood, Jamie Moyer and Josh Outman who were flyball guys and/or didn't generate a lot of strikeouts. Their moves left a lot of folks scratching their heads as there was mountains of evidence that flyballs and Coors Field just don't mix. The unspoken justification though was that most of the pitchers they targeted had a knack for generating low BABIPs (batting average on balls in play). In theory, the flyballs would not be a problem if they weren't well hit flyballs.
As my father used to tell me, in theory, communism actually works.
Whatever the brain trust in Colorado was thinking, they need to start re-thinking it because even just one-third of the way into the season, it is pretty clear that this experiment is an unqualified disaster. And with how hard it is for the Rockies to lure quality pitching to the Mile High City, they could have years of work in front of them to repair all the damage they did in just one off-season.
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