Chad Kuhl the lone bright spot in Rockies rotation

Jun 3, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Kuhl (41) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Very little has gone right for the Colorado Rockies in 2022.

Some of the poor play was plenty predictable. The team doesn’t have top-end talent to match up with some of the best teams in the league or their division and the roster was lacking in depth, at least on paper, coming into the season.

Additionally, they’ve only gotten 17 games out of their new leader, in terms of contract status anyway, in Kris Bryant. Lately, the bullpen has been especially bad and throughout the season the defense has been so head scratching that Rockies fans are out of scalp.

The sloppy play in particular has been a killer and it has been difficult to determine the cause. Each one of the defenders who is making regular mistakes brings a skillset and history that suggests they should at least be solid. This “uncharacteristic” play though is quickly becoming a characteristic of this version of the team.

And a similar dynamic is at play out on the mound where, for whatever reason, four out of the five rotation starters are pitching well beyond their capabilities and resumes. 

Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, Austin Gomber, and most especially German Marquez have struggled mightily to find consistency and so the Rockies have struggled mightily to keep their heads above water.

Until that changes nothing else will for this team but at least once a week Colorado baseball fans have been treated to some quality pitching and some watchable ballgames.

Chad Kuhl has been a wonderful revelation this season.

What seemed like it might just be a nice hot start has turned into 10 games of simply excellent pitching. 

Over 54 innings pitched, he has a 3.17 ERA and a 147 ERA+ suggesting he has been roughly 47 percent than the league average. 

With his career ERA+ sitting right at the average (99) it is fair to wonder how long this will last or where it came from. But it isn’t fair to diminish what he has done.

Moving from Pittsburgh to Colorado, Kuhl had to immediately adjust to the Coors Field and Hangover Effect and has done so better than anyone in recent memory. You have to go back to Jorge de la Rosa to find another guy who had been mostly fine elsewhere for a half-decade then came to Colorado and found themselves.

Of course, Kuhl has a long way to go before he becomes the next JDLR but it cannot be overstated just how high a bar of difficulty he had coming into this environment while trying to rediscover himself.

And it really doesn’t help that he is carrying the rotation with his entire back and both legs. The fact that the Rockies aren’t much further under .500 is owed in large part to his ability to step in and give this offense, which has been pretty decent, a chance to win some games.

He hasn’t been especially dominant in the peripherals, striking out 41 and walking 20 so far, but he has been good enough that a few more outings to his season average really ought to ramp up some All-Star conversation.

Very few pitchers in Rockies history have stepped into this wild situation and managed to stay focused and consistent while the storm rages around them. And, who knows, it may end up swallowing Chad Kuhl as well.

But right now, there is no debate that he has been the Rockies best pitcher and one of the best in the National League, especially when taken in full context.

If it can rub off on the other pitchers a bit, this team might be able to turn it around. If not, it is still worth noting the remarkable accomplishment of this player who looked destined to be a journeyman but may have just found a comfortable home in the most uncomfortable place to pitch.

SHARE