By: Jason Mumm
The Colorado Rockies came from behind to nip the Mets and complete a three-game sweep on Sunday leading fans to wonder if there might be something interesting about this year’s club that could make them forget about the previous two consecutive years of flirting with 100 losses.
This series was big for the Rockies, who have not performed very well at home so far this year. Facing a very strong Mets club after being pummeled earlier in the week by an under performing D-backs squad is definitely NOT a challenge that last year’s Rockies ever responded to with any sort of frequency. This year’s club, however, has been a resilient one. There have been some terrible games, but those have not caused any free-for-all drops of 6,8, or even 10 games like we’ve seen the past two seasons. Always, this year’s team has responded by coming back and winning some games that they really should not have had much chance of winning. There was a sweep against the Cubs in April, impressive outings against the Giants at home and away already, and this gem against the Mets as the latest example of a team that refuses to be defined by the last two years.
This three-game series had it all for the Rockies: two quality starts in games one and three by Gray and Chatwood; coming from behind to win two of the games; and an offense that rose to the occasion when challenged. Most impressive to me was the performances of Gray and Chatwood. Facing off against two of the better pitchers in the NL in Harvey and deGrom, both held their own and kept their teams in their respective games through 7 innings giving the Rockies a chance to win against tough pitching. I’ve written before that one of the keys to this year’s club is to produce significantly more quality starts. With the team’s middle relief looking like its weakest link, whenever the starting rotation can turn the ball over to the late relievers, good things can happen. Through May 15th, the Rockies have posted 14 quality starts vs. an MLB average of 18, but their pace is 30% improved from last year when they had just 54 quality starts the entire year, just an 8% rate (they are at 39% as of today).
With almost a quarter of the season played, the Rockies are right in the hunt in a very competitive NL West. Only 4 games separate the 1st and last place teams in this division, and the Rockies are just 1 1/2 back of the Dodgers and Giants. Fans will be right to be skeptical, but the first 6 weeks have been a lot of fun to watch if you ask me.