At 23-18, the Colorado Rockies have surpassed early season expectations in 2014, but haven’t taken full advantage of their dominance at the dish. Colorado ranks as the best offensive team in the big leagues. They lead MLB in four critical categories, including runs (231), batting average (.298), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging percentage (.497). The Rockies’ current level of run production is prolific, but they’re just five games over the .500 mark.
The Rockies are a top-heavy ball club concentrated with All-Star hitters and a lack of formidable pitchers. Their pitching staff currently ranks 20th in team ERA (4.05), allowing opponents to compile a .255 batting average against. The Rockies need consistently solid performances from their starting rotation if they’re going to make a push for the NL West title.
Jordan Lyles has been nails for Colorado to this point of this season, registering a 5-0 record with a 2.66 ERA, but the 23-year-old right-handed hurler is bound to come back to Earth, especially while pitching his home games in the confines of the Mile High City. He owns a 5.03 ERA over 80 games in his career. Juan Nicasio‘s early season performance is on level with his track record. He’s pitched well for Colorado, posting a 4-2 record with a 3.77 ERA.
Supposed staff ace Jorge De La Rosa has underachieved to this point, recording a 4.81 ERA in 43.0 innings of work while Franklin Morales has been vastly inconsistent, registering a highly inefficient 1.61 WHIP in eight starts. The Rockies flaunt the best lineup in baseball, but their starting rotation hasn’t enabled the team to sustain success.
Colorado isn’t going to score six-plus runs each night, which means their pitching staff needs to toss some gems in order for the team to contend. Lyles has been a pleasant surprise to date, but he has yet to demonstrate the ability to achieve that level of dominance on the mound over the course of a 162-game season. The Rockies’ powerful middle of the order tandem of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki is scary good, but both players are bound to endure prolonged slumps during the long-haul of a baseball season.
Are the Rockies good enough to stay afloat if Lyles is unable to pitch at his current rate of success or if Gonzalez and Tulowitzki suddenly go cold?
Colorado’s league-leading run production hasn’t translated into first place status in the NL West after surpassing the 40-game marker. They’re currently just 2.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants for the division lead, but they don’t have the comparative pitching talent to put them over the edge.