The Colorado Rockies have been the surprise of the 2017 MLB season. Even though they’ve lost three straight games, the Rockies (41-26) still have the most wins in the National League and the fourth-best record in baseball.
Interestingly enough, the Rockies have been better on the road (24-13) than they’ve been at home (17-13). In fact, they have the best road record in the NL – and it’s no secret why.
“Because they’re good at pitching,” former Rockies outfielder and current analyst Ryan Spilborghs said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “We haven’t seen a young starting staff like this. In fact, baseball doesn’t have a starting rotation younger than the Rockies. The Rockies are the youngest starting rotation in baseball by two years. It’s not even close. When you look at the buzz (we’ve had) by bringing in a Bud Black, the pitching staff has been held more accountable. It’s the first time the Rockies have ever had a manager that was a pitcher. Bud came from a great background.”
Black, 59, coached with Joe Maddon and under Mike Scioscia in Los Angeles and helped the Angels win the World Series in 2002. He also managed the Padres from 2007-2015 and was named NL Manager of the Year in 2010.
“They don’t like to hear it,” Spilborghs said of the Padres, “but they are a mid-level market team with a very limited roster, and they were dominated by the back end of the bullpen to get them their wins. Basically, Bud Black has taken that mentality and taught these young guys to have confidence, to pitch to contact, to have a ball-strike ratio where you’re throwing more strikes than balls, and then to hand it over to a relief corps that he tries to put in the best situations possible.”
Antonio Senzatela, 22, Kyle Freeland, 24, and Tyler Chatwood, 27, have been reliable starters for the Rockies, who have asked Mike Dunn, Adam Ottavino, and Greg Holland, among others, to secure wins.
“The best managers in baseball – and the best teams in baseball – have great bullpens,” Spilborghs said. “Great bullpens are a result of starting pitching getting long enough into the game that it shortens a game so you’re asking the bullpen to maybe get nine outs a night. That’s preferential treatment if you’re a bullpen guy. You could take the best bullpen in baseball and if you’re asking them to get 12 outs a night, 15 outs a night – where their starters are only going five, maybe six innings – you’re not going to have a good team. So to me, it’s been pitching. That’s been the real separator for them. Pitching plays no matter where you’re at, whether you’re on the road or you’re at Coors Field.”