To see? It's an altitude joke! 'Cause they're playing in Denver, you know? Pretty awesome, huh? I know, I'm awesome. Yes, it's a burden, but I carry it for you. Because you deserve it.
Either way, it looks like it's the Rockies' turn this season to mock the Padres' ambitions to run with the big dogs of the NL West. Although the San Francisco Giants also seem to be continuing where they left off. But now it's certain the Giants are just going to weave something out of the ether to be good. The Rockies might just be the ether. They sit with the Giants just one game behind the league-leading Dodgers.
So of course the question is how long can they stay there? Are they just a product of sample size and riding a good wave of weirdness in baseball? The answers are "surprisingly a bit longer" and "yeah, pretty much", as diametrically opposed as those two things are.
Can Colorado convert its strong start into a playoff run?
It's always tricky with the Rockies, and it goes beyond their institutionalized organizational quirkiness, cheapness and idiocracy. The first thing you think about with the Rockies is offense and runs, given the environment they play in. But when they had their last spasm of actual skill in 2017 and 2018, it was mostly built on a homegrown pitching staff. By the time they started eating worms again, most people thought they had a good pitching staff when they didn't.
Note:- check out the post how much thin air is in the 10-5 Rockies right here.
This version certainly hits the ball, 8th in MLB in runs scored. But the big story so far has been starting pitcher Chad Kuhl, who has a 1.10 ERA in three starts. Kuhl had been a candidate to be one of those junk finds that gets tapped into by the right pitching coach or finds new ground and becomes a whole.
Kuhl is using a new ground these days, a lead that has become his most used, 41% of the time compared to 13 last season. The big effect this has had is that it has caused batters to chase him out of the box much more than before, a chase rate of 40% in 2022, up from 13% last year. Which explains how Kuhl found success without pulling out too many batters. A 21% K-rate isn't something to laugh at, but it's pretty standard. What Kuhl did was keep the ball out of the bat barrel, as his 2.4% barrel rate is one of the lowest in the league. Which has also seen his online drive rate drop from 20 years to 14% so far in 2022.
But, it's never that simple. Kuhl is using a .190 BABIP right now, and it will swell, and probably quickly. It will be the same for his ERA when this is the case. But as long as very few hit him hard, he'll likely still be effective. Likewise, Austin Gomber has been able to dance around the meat of opposing bats this season, with a barrel rate of 6.7%, which has also dropped the line count against him. Gomber has actually been unlucky with balls in play against him and runners on base, so he's also a candidate to hold the line.
Out of the bullpen, Tyler Kinley and Daniel Bard were very oppressive, with the former getting close to 60% puffs on his slider.
Justin Lawrence did it another way, getting almost 65% grounders when he was on the mound. The pen might actually be fine in the long run.
Offensively…well, that's probably the whoopie cushion we're going to be sitting on at some point. C.J. Cron has six home runs and hits .667, and Cron has had more offensive seasons before. But Cron's success so far largely hinges on nearly 40% of his fly balls ending up as home runs, and that won't continue, especially since real baseball has been so deflated this season. Connor Joe, between his futile last name searches, has an OPS of 1.022. But it also has a BABIP of .366 with no speed and no telltale contact numbers. He has more bat-to-ball skills and makes a ton of contact, which shouldn't see him sink further than a usable bat. Randall Grichuk will eventually suffer the fate of someone who has a terminal case of being Randall Grichuk. Charlie Blackmon (you can feel free to call him "Chuck Nasty") seems to have gone for the career-ending ploy of "selling himself for fastballs." He shoots everything, makes less contact but sends more balls in the air. He hopes to continue to outpace his growing takedowns with increased power.