Put the Myth to Rest: Rockies Road to Success is a Strong Finish Not A Matter of Survival

Tracy Ringolsby

A common refrain of late is that a 60-game season gives the Rockies an edge.

The folks who have been pushing that  quickly opt to support their case by mentioning how the Rockies traditionally get off to fast starts and fade.

Oh really? 

No, not really.

Truth is, the Rockies have to get off to a fast start to advance to the post-season in a year where there are only 60 games in the regular season. They have to come out of spring training ready for the challenge.

They can't kick back and subscribe to the "Wait `Til Next Month" reality.

The Rockies have had a winning record 60 games into a season in only nine of their 27 years -- and only three times have they been more than four games above break even.

They have made only five post-season appearances in franchise history, and two of those have come in seasons in which the Rockies have had a sub-.500 record at the 60-game mark.

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The key to success? 

Try the starting rotation. Beset by injuries a year ago, the Rockies went through hard times. German Marquez, who led the team with 12 wins (and only five losses), was the only one of the 11 pitchers who started a game for the Rockies to reach the 162-inning requirement to quality for an ERA title, working 174 innings.

In making back-to-back post-season appearances in 2017 and 2018, the rotation was a strength. 

In 2018 the Rockies used only six pitchers, four of whom made at least 30 starts. Kyle Freeland's 2.85 ERA was the lowest in franchise history for a starting pitcher in a full season, and his 17 wins were one shy of the club record held by Ubaldo Jimenez.

In 2017, the Rockies had four starting pitchers win 10 or more games -- rookies Marquez, Freeland and Antonio Senzatela, along with Jon Gray, who went into the season having made 38 starts the two previous years. 

The five years that the Rockies have advanced to the post-season, the rotations have compiled ERAs that rank among the top 12 in franchise history, including the top two rotation ERAs in franchise history in 2009 and 2018. 

They ranked fifth in 2007 and sixth in 2017. The fact the 1995 team ranked 12th should be recognized as the first year in Coors Field, before adjustments were made to try and provide some help for pitchers in dealing with the thin air of a 5,280-foot altitude.

They also have had a bullpen that has shown an ability to close out games in the years they advanced to the post-season. 

The five post-season bullpen ERAs rank among the 12 best in franchise history, including the 3.85 ERA of 2007 ranking second. Wade Davis set a franchise record with 43 saves in 2018, breaking the record of 41 Greg Holland compiled in 2017. 

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And it should be noted that in the five years the Rockies have advanced to the post-season, the constantly cited idea that the team gets off to fast starts and fades, it would be noted the Rockies had a winning record in the first month of the post-season years twice -- 16-10 in 2017 and 17-16 in 1995.

Meanwhile, they have had a winning record in the final month all five times, and four times their final month record was better than the opening month of the season, including 2007 when they rebounded from a 10-16 opening month to 21-8 in the final month en route to the only World Series appearances in franchise history.

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