Share & Comment:

The key to the Rockies win streak? Starting pitching

Pitching wins ball games. Without a solid starting rotation, a team can be hard-pressed to be competitive as offenses are likely trying to dig themselves out of a hole early and bullpen arms get burned out due to overuse. While debates rage about how MLB needs to save the starting pitcher one thing remains true that starting pitching is essential to any team’s success.

The Colorado Rockies have been a major proponent of this fact during their last few weeks of baseball. Dating back to last Thursday the Rockies have won seven consecutive games after failing to win two consecutive games prior, becoming just the second team in MLB history to do so, joining the 1889 Indianapolis Hoosiers. During their hot streak, the Rockies pulled off back-to-back series sweeps of both the World Champion Texas Rangers as well as the San Diego Padres. The sweep in San Diego was the first one for the Rockies since 2013.

While the offense has started to click, recording at least seven hits in all seven games during the streak with timely hitting and continued growth of younger players, it has been the starting pitching that has carried the team through its best stretch since 2019.

It’s well known that the Rockies got off to a historically bad start to the season after they trailed in 31 consecutive games to begin the season, setting a new MLB record. The offense wasn’t doing the team any favors but the pitching struggled greatly across the board. In the first game of the year, Kyle Freeland (who is currently on the injured list with an elbow strain) was tagged for 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings, setting the tone for struggles ahead. Through the first month of the season, the Rockies rotation posted an MLB-worst 6.49 ERA with a 1-16 record. After a month into the season, it seemed clear that pitching was going to indicate where the team was going to end up by season’s end.

However, May has been a much more favorable month for the Rockies starting rotation. In 14 starts this month, the Rockies have a solid 3.66 ERA with a 4.05 FIP as well as 76 1/3 innings pitched by the starters, the eighth-most in MLB this month. While strikeouts and walks aren’t exactly where they would like them as a unit, the rotation has done quite well in posting a 0.83 HR/9.

During the seven-game winning streak, the rotation has posted a 1.96 ERA, third best in baseball, in 41 1/3  innings, second-most in baseball. During the run, the starters have gone 5-0 while allowing just nine runs on 10 hits, including just four home runs. The starters also haven’t been doing it all on their own as the defense has aided them quite a bit as evidenced by a FIP over four for the rotation. Their 59.3 groundball rate is the highest in baseball during the stretch, showing that the key to the starting pitching has been balls in play that a stellar defense can make a play on.

Undoubtedly, the biggest impacts are thanks to the efforts of Cal Quantrill and Austin Gomber.

The veteran duo have actually been solid for the Rockies all season. In his first year with the Rockies, Quantrill has settled in nicely through his first nine starts. He owns a 3.66 ERA in 51 2/3 innings while limiting opponents to a .251 AVG and owns six quality starts on the year (six or more innings pitched with three or fewer runs allowed). His month of May has been particularly excellent as he has allowed just two runs on 14 hits in 19 2/3 innings over three starts. During his start in Pittsburgh on May 3, Quantrill tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and zero walks in a Rockies 3-2 victory.  The utilization of a fastball and splitter combo has helped Quantrill pound the zone and get ground balls and lift a rotation that was going to be the biggest weakness for the Rockies coming into the season.

Following Quantrill is Gomber who is now in his fourth season with the Rockies since joining the club in 2021 as part of the Nolan Arenado trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. There have been glimpses of brilliance from Gomber during his Rockies tenure but something has locked in for the lefty this season. Through nine starts he owns a rotation-best 3.02 ERA in 50 2/3 innings with 35 strikeouts and 17 walks. He has not allowed more than fours in a start and has pitched at least five complete innings since going four innings on April 5. Gomber’s excellence has been a boon for the Rockies, especially in May where in three starts he has allowed just one earned run and pitched into the sixth inning each start. Again, an ability to pound the zone to get ground balls and collect strikeouts where needed while limiting walks has led Gomber to be one of the best pitchers on the team.

The rest of the rotation has also been excellent during the winning streak. Ryan Feltner allowed two runs in six innings at Coors Field against the Rangers in his previous start while Dakota Hudson gave up three in 5 2/3 innings against the Padres to earn his first win of the season. Then, there is Ty Blach who slotted into the rotation last Sunday, tossing five innings of one-run ball against the Rangers. Feltner and Hudson have both had their ups and downs and are sometimes a little harder to predict what type of outing you’re going to get. However, when they are bringing their “A” game on the mound, both are quite effective in their own ways. Feltner is the best power arm in the rotation while Hudson and Blach are ground ball specialists that can keep hitters guessing.

It’s been said that pitching for the Rockies is one of the hardest things to do in baseball. Some consider it an impossible task and yet, the Rockies are showing instances that not only can they pitch well at home, but they can pitch well on the road with no real discernable difference. Whether it’s just a hot streak of luck or tangible evidence of team improvement, one certain thing is that the Rockies owe much of their success over the past week to excellent starting pitching.


Sign up below for the latest news, stories and podcasts from our affiliates

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.