Rockies’ end-of-season starting pitching analysis: Likely 2022 rotation, depth pieces


Editor’s note: First of a series looking ahead to the Rockies of 2022. Today: starting pitching.

The season-long narrative that the Rockies’ 2021 rotation was the best in franchise history didn’t play out.

Nonetheless, the team’s starters were a strength in 2021 and the potential is there for them to be even better in 2022. If they can stay healthy and if the Rockies can find some quality depth.

There was plenty to like about the rotation, especially its performance at home and its ability to induce groundball outs. However, it was a long way from being the best in franchise history, mostly because all of the starters experienced significant slumps.

Plus, the numbers don’t support the best-ever narrative. End-of-the-season swoons by No. 1 starter German Marquez, and by Jon Gray, who’ll soon be a free agent, hurt the bottom line.

The starters’ ERA of 4.77 ranked as just the ninth-best in team history and was the fourth-highest in the National League this season. The starters’ 1.36 WHIP was also the fourth-highest in the NL and the .266 batting average against was the third-highest.

The good news, Rockies starters pitched well at hitter-friendly Coors Field, posting a 4.28 ERA, which ranked as the second-lowest in franchise history behind the 2010 team (4.21). Plus, even though Colorado starters didn’t overpower hitters, their 47.6% groundball rate was second in the majors behind Cincinnati (47.7%), and their 51.2% groundball rate at Coors Field was instrumental to their success.

Following is a breakdown and grades for the performance of each of the Rockies’ starters, with a forecast for their 2022 season.

The stalwarts
RHP German Marquez (12-11, 4.40 ERA, 32 starts)

Marquez was a first-time all-star and possesses the best stuff on the staff. But issues with fastball command early in the season and apparent fatigue late in the season marred his performance. He was not nearly as good as he was in 2018 (3.77 ERA, 230 strikeouts vs. 176 in 2021).

The right-hander, 26, has the potential to be an ace, but he’s not there yet. He needs to build up his stamina and eliminate the clunkers next season. After going 6-3 and posting a 2.86 ERA in 11 starts in June and July, Marquez was 3-3 with a 6.57 ERA in his final 10 starts.

Grade: B-minus

LHP Kyle Freeland (7-8, 4.33 ERA, 23 starts)

Freeland is Colorado’s toughest pitcher, never giving an inch. He deals with a lot of traffic (opponents hit .284 against him), but his ability to induce groundball double plays and get big outs in huge moments remains his calling card.

Freeland came back from a scary shoulder injury in spring training and a rusty start to post the team’s lowest ERA. At 28, he’s entering his prime, and his four-pitch mix and ability to adjust during a game make him valuable. His strikeout rate (7.8 per nine) and walkout rate (2.8) were the best of his career.

“My body, my arm, the momentum I have, it feels like I’m in midseason form,” Freeland said after his final start.

Grade: B

RHP Antonio Senzatela (4-10, 4.42 …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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