Well, welcome back, old Rockies. We sure missed you. (No, not really.)
After a three-game sweep of the almighty Yankees earlier in the week, the Rockies traveled north of the border and immediately dropped their first two games against the Blue Jays. Yes, I realize that a three-game sweep of the Yankees doesn’t quite mean what it would have, say, four years ago, but it’s still a big deal to a team that hasn’t been having much success in recent years. But the same Rockies pitching staff that gave up five runs in three games against the Yankees has given up twenty runs in two games to the Blue Jays. To further the point of how out of whack this all is, the Yankees are hitting .282 as a team; the Blue Jays are hitting a paltry .256.
Of course, "the same Rockies pitching staff" is a bit misleading. The three games against the Yankees were pitched by Josh Fogg, Jeff Francis, and Rodrigo Lopez. Francis, of course, is the de facto staff ace, who’s won five of his last six starts and has an excellent 1.77 ERA over that stretch. In eight of his last nine starts he’s given up two or fewer runs, and he’s gone less than seven innings just once in that span. Fogg is constantly cited as the Rockies starter fans would most like to be sent to the bullpen, including by myself, but recently he’s been one of our better starters; the Rockies have won in his past four starts, and he has a 3.91 ERA in that time. And, well, the Rockies are only 7-1 in games started by Rodrigo Lopez. I wonder what our record would be if we’d had him starting all season and not had to deal with stretches of BK Kim and Taylor Buchholz being used as starters.
On the other hand, the two games against the Blue Jays have been started by Jason Hirsh and Aaron Cook. Hirsh in many ways is the prototypical rookie starting pitcher: he looks brilliant at times, but at other times he just looks lost. Outside of a complete game five-hitter against the Orioles on June 10, Hirsh has mostly been looking lost of late, and it’s hurting the team. Of course, there’s nobody obvious to fill his spot in the rotation, so the Rockies will probably just stick it out with Hirsh. Aaron Cook was supposed to be our ace, but that’s hardly been the case. Outside of a four-game stretch in early May when Cook won three straight starts largely due to great run support (heck, Cook had a 5.71 ERA in those starts) he hasn’t been great. Eight of his sixteen starts have been quality starts, but he’s also had seven starts in which he’s given up five or more runs. And outside of that three-game stretch, the Rockies are 3-10 when Cook starts. That’s not what you expect from an ace.
The offense, on the other hand, has been good in this series, though part of that is just the matter of facing off against Josh Towers and Ty Taubenheim. Tomorrow it will be Dustin McGowan and his 5.68 ERA (and he can’t blame that ERA on Coors, either.) Josh Fogg goes for us, and, well, if Fogg can beat Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, surely he can beat Dustin McGowan, right?
I hope so. We need to stop the bleeding right now before this turns into one of those season-unraveling losing skids that we’ve become used to in Junes and Julys past.