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BSN Exclusive: Rockies stars make bold claims about pitching staff

Drew Creasman Avatar
August 10, 2018

I had one simple question for three complex men.

The Colorado Rockies have existed for 25 years and for 23 and a half of them, the idea that they could ever boast a dominant pitching staff seemed more far-fetched than anything ripped from the pages of a comic book.

And yet, as I stood before a player who has worn purple for 10 of those 25 years, I couldn’t even get the full question out after revealing the premise.

“CarGo,” I said, “It’s been over a month that this team has had the best ERA in baseball, even better at home. You’ve been here for a decade, have you ever…”

Carlos Gonzalez, now sitting at his locker after almost everyone but the two of us had cleared the clubhouse, flashed his trademark smile, shook his head, and laughed his answer to the unfinished question.

“Nope.”

“Their numbers don’t lie. What they’re doing right now is absolutely impressive. We are where we are because of them. It’s not like we’re scoring 13 or 14 runs a day. We’re winning close games and it’s all because this rotation is doing a tremendous job.”

The same question was posed to DJ LeMahieu. His answer came just as quick but went in the opposite direction… at least for a moment.

“Yeah, I can think of one other time,” he said. “But it was these same guys last year,” referring to the stretch the team went on after the All-Star break, especially Jon Gray, to power the club to its first postseason appearance since 2009.

Nolan Arenado made it clear that these two things are not correlative.

“We are where we are because of them,” he said. “We got to the playoffs last year because they take us and they can again. We feel like, as an offense, we will be able to score enough that if they just keep us in games, we should win a lot.”

And that was the formula for the Rockies posting a 3.35 ERA in July, the best month in franchise history. But LeMahieu and Arenado argue, they don’t believe this is some hot streak or a spike that must necessarily see regressions, both positing their own version of the phrase, “this is who they are.”

This didn’t come out of nowhere. Each of these players was a highly-touted prospect, though it is often pointed out that prospects can be fools gold. When it goes the other way though, they’re just gold. The impressive numbers and the impact it has had on the record the last few months aside, the most eye-popping thing is they’ve managed to accomplish this so early on in their careers.

This has the added bonus of giving the Rockies tremendous flexibility. When you combine the salaries of the six players who have made all but one of the starts for Colorado this season, it comes out to just $4.75 million. Gonzalez’ base salary is $5 million.

They might be the most cost-beneficial unit in the National League.

And their performance has permeated the rest of the team, CarGo says.

“It’s good to go back to the dugout knowing he just battled his ass off and take that as a motivation. I think that’s been the big key for us our confidence is way up and we believe we can beat any team.”

When you pitch and play defense, you can beat any team at any time in this game.

“They’ve been so good and they just compete,” says Arenado who knows the results can vary as seen with recent hiccup from Tyler Anderson and early against the Pirates for German Marquez. But the key, Arenado tells us, “is to stay competitive. These guys are competitors and it’s great to play behind them.”

Kyle Freeland has become the symbol for this movement. His dominance in Denver and domineering demeanor have prompted several of his teammates and Bud Black to beam about the way he sets the tone on any day he takes the mound. Going down the list, Arenado sounds like a kid in a candy store: “The stuff that Gray has… and people forget how young Marquez (23) and Senzatela (23) are.”

Gonzalez once again sums it up: “All the starters are doing something that I haven’t seen before. It’s the best I’ve ever seen in 10 years.”

“And they’re getting better,” Arenado says.

And they’re getting better.

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