BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
The Rockies celebrated their 20th season of playing Major League Baseball this season.
This season is significant not only because of the milestone, but they finally found a starting rotation to build around.
It’s hard to believe, but that’s the case when the Rockies could have four starters achieving 10 victories this season.
Jhoulys Chacin earned his 13th win of the season last night after the Rockies’ 5-4 victory over the Giants at Coors Field. He pitched well again by giving up a run and a hit in seven innings. He struck out nine, and this was the fourth start in a row he threw over 100 pitches.
With the way Chacin pitched since June, he is on pace to win 17 games. That’s impressive when a starter reaches that mark. That’s where he enters elite territory.
Jorge De La Rosa has 14 wins this season, and he is on pace to get 18 wins. If he had run support this season, he could have had 16 wins with a chance to have a 20-win season.
The Rockies knew Chacin and De La Rosa had the stuff to be effective. They were banking on them to anchor the staff. Still, no one knew they could pitch like elite pitchers. They certainly have by overpowering hitters.
For couple of Rockies to reach that number of wins, that is an accomplishment. It’s rare that the team has a pitcher having 15 or more wins. It’s something to be proud of for a franchise that has had a hard time developing pitchers.
It’s not only De La Rosa and Chacin that are doing well.
Juan Nicasio is on pace to win 12 games if he continues to throw quality starts as he has done since his start against the Dodgers on July 12. It would be surprising if he does not win at least 10 games when the season is over. He is good enough to get it done.
He always had the talent to pitch well. He can get hitters out by throwing fastball, but he is now throwing sliders, curveballs and breaking balls to get outs. He has been consistent in throwing secondary pitches since his start against the Dodgers.
He has been a great story, and if he keeps it up, he could be a mainstay in the rotation for the next few years along with De La Rosa and Chacin.
Tyler Chatwood has 7 wins, and with him being activated from the disabled list on Sunday, he has a chance to get to 10 wins as long as he is not affected from the injuries he had this season.
He was on track to get 13 wins this season before he was on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation several weeks ago.
Ever since Chatwood was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 18, he allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts. He also has won six starts during that period.
Like Nicasio, Chatwood figured out how to throw secondary pitches such as curveballs, breaking balls and sliders to get guys outs. That’s why both starters have been consistently good.
As good as those guys are, it’s about maintaining consistency for the next few years. That’s something the Rockies have to find out. It’s a challenge those guys have to deal with. Plus, those guys need to avoid having arm problems.
De La Rosa has been good for awhile. For him, it’s about staying healthy.
Chacin always had good stuff, but this is the first time he has taken the next step of being an elite starter after being inconsistent in recent years.
Nicasio and Chatwood need to sustain their success.
If Chacin, Nicasio and Chatwood can duplicate this season’s success, the Rockies are in good shape with their starting rotation for years to come.
Finding starters have been a challenge for the Rockies since they were born in 1993. Most of them never panned out. Free agents flopped, and young starters never had the confidence to pitch at Coors Field.
The Rockies finally found guys who know how to pitch at Coors Field. If nothing else, this should end the myth that it’s hard to pitch at Coors Field.
From watching De La Rosa, Chacin, Chatwood and Nicasio, they showed a pitcher can get hitters out by being crafty out on the mound. They don’t need to overpower hitters or bank on a call to get hitters out. They don’t need to overthink. They have to pitch.
It’s refreshing what these guys can do after years of watching pitchers fail for the Rockies since they did not have the confidence to pitch.
It’s safe to say the Rockies solve their riddle of fielding a good rotation.
It only took 20 years.
Contact me or follow me on Twitter: @TalkinRockies