Nothing has gone according to plan for the Colorado Rockies in 2022. Not even the things that have gone right.
Nobody had Chad Kuhl pacing the rotation and Tyler Kinley being among the best relief pitchers in all of MLB.
Few, if any, had the offense being the strength of the team and again nobody had that with only 17 games of contribution from Kris Bryant. Almost no one outside of Yonathan Daza’s family had him becoming one of the best contact hitters in the league.
And as inspiring and incredible to watch as Connor Joe had already been, predicting that he would get on base in literally all but two games the team has played this year would have been lofty indeed.
Similarly, the team-wide plan was clearly to dominate at home, take care of business against the dregs of the league, and just try to not get totally dominated by the big boys of the NL West, the Giants and Dodgers.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, they put themselves way behind the eight ball by losing early season series to teams they should have been able to handle like Pittsburgh and Washington and dropped very winnable sets at home, most especially to the Kansas City Royals.
By doing this, they… forgive the pun… rocked their own formula, meaning that they can no longer sneak into a successful season by stealing wins on the margins and simply taking care of business at 20th and Blake.
In order to get this thing back on track, or anywhere near a track, the Rockies desperately need to do a few things that hadn’t shown up all season until this most recent series win over the San Francisco Giants.
Yes, indeed, a win over the big brothers in the division and on the road is clearly something that will need to happen more if this team is going to right itself. But it isn’t just the “what” of it, it is far more tangibly the “why” they took home a pair of victories that must quickly become commonplace.
Essentially, they pitched well and didn’t make too many mistakes.
The offense has shown that it will be there, surprise or no, these guys can hit a little bit. The defense has been erratic at best but when it shows up solid it all comes down to the mount.
For the first time in 2022, this last time through the rotation saw each guy throw the kind of game we all know they are capable of but have seen far too rarely. With the exception of rookie Ryan Feltner, who had oddly enough been pitching better than any of them before his first “bleh” game, the Rox rotation has looked like the unit that was supposed to keep this team in the hunt.
Kuhl, of course, remains solid. The last time we saw Kyle Freeland, he pitched seven innings of one-run baseball against the defending champs. Antonio Senzatela went six innings and gave up just a single run in San Francisco and Austin Gomber nearly matched him by going six and surrendering two.
Of course, it was last year’s All-Star, German Marquez, who has arguably been the biggest disappointment for the Rockies this year (but also holds the biggest opportunity for personal and team improvement) who finally shined through.
It looked like it was going to be another tough one for Marquez who gave up three earned runs as a part of a nightmarish first inning. If this had been any other game in 2022, he would have been out of the game in the fourth and given up another handful of runs. But not this time.
Against one of the better teams in the league, and with his back against the wall in their house, Marquez recovered and started hitting his spots with the kind of regularity we simply have not seen out of him in a while. It led to the results he wanted, and he salvaged a Quality Start from the outing, giving his team a chance to win the game, which they did.
And that’s really what it all comes down to. The “Quality Start” is a stat that is oft debated because the worst form of it amounts to a mediocre ERA at best when applied to an individual.
But the stat is as much a team one as an individual one. The point of a quality start isn’t that is means whoever threw it deserves All-Star consideration if they do it a lot, it is simply a recognition that on that particular day, they gave their club a chance to win.
That is what the Rockies need in order to stabilize their season. Quality starts.
A 2-1 series win over the Giants in early June doesn’t amount to anything in the long run. But this is the first time this season we have seen the Rockies actually beat a tough opponent thanks to the strength of their starting pitching. If this can be a kind of turning point for those arms, then it can be a turning point of the season.
If it was just three days of good pitching. Well, enjoy it while it lasts.