After storming out of the gate to begin the season, the Colorado Rockies have come down back to earth. Over the past calendar month, they’ve lost 16 of 30 games, which can be mostly credited to an eight-game losing streak.
But in spite of the losing streak and the (perhaps temporary) return to the Rockies’ historic normalcy, there is one aspect of the team that has remained cause for cheering throughout the season: the pitching staff. Not only has the pitching staff been good this season, it has been almost the best Rockies staff in their 25-year history.
Led by Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Freeland, and rookie Antonio Senzatela, this pitching staff is one of the best ever in Colorado. Starting with traditional statistics, the 2017 Rockies rank 6th in ERA and 7th in FIP among all Rockies seasons. Nevertheless, if we look at their ERA- and FIP- (which adjusts for ballpark and era), they rank 1st and 3rd, respectively.
Rockies ERA and FIP
Then again, these are not the only stats that speak of the 2017 Rockies excellence. If we look at other advanced metrics, we see how great they are. For example, take a look at their strikeout and walk rates. Colorado is currently holding a franchise-record 20.7 percent strikeout rate. And even though they are in the middle of the pack on walk percentage, they hold a comfortable lead of 11.7 percent in K-BB rate.
Furthermore, there are two final stats that not only tell us how good the Rockies have been when compared to previous iterations of the team, but also when compared to their opponents. The first is left-on-base percentage. This is an interesting stat because it tells us how good the team has been at not allowing the other team to score. The Rockies have a franchise record of 72.5 percent of runners left-on-base. Despite allowing 414 runs to score, the Rockies have been good at not letting runners get on base and, if they manage to reach base, not letting them score. This is generally a stat influenced more by luck than by skill, so whether they’ll continue at this pace for the rest of the season remains to be seen.
Finally, even though we are only working with half a season of information, the Rockies have accrued 9.9 pitching fWAR, as an all-around measure of pitching success. In order to prove that they are the best, they would need to total greater than 21.2 pitching fWAR to beat the 2009 Rockies. Unfortunately, FanGraphs doesn’t provide rest of season projections for teams, but ieven if the Rockies maintain this pace for the rest of the season, they would end with about 18.2 fWAR. This wouldn’t be good enough for first, but would place them as the third-best pitching staff in their history.
Rockies Franchis Pitcher fWAR
For the first time in eight years, we’re looking at a Rockies team that has a real shot at the playoffs. And not only that; the Rockies looked poised to possibly knock the Dodgers out, keeping them from the playoffs for the first time in five years. But however the season ends — with the Rockies missing the playoffs, winning a pennant, or with a World Series championship — Rockies fans can at least know that their team finally has a pitching staff worth holding on to.
Martin Alonso writes for Beyond the Box Score and BP Bronx and is contantly geeking out over baseball and Star Wars. You can find him on Twitter at @martnar.