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Colorado Rockies All-Time Starting Rotation

Drew Creasman Avatar
April 16, 2020

As a part of our DNVRWatches series, we’ve been treating ourselves to some classic Colorado Rockies games including some spectacular individual pitching performances.

Following up on the DNVR Rockies Podcast, we dove deep into a conversation about the single best-pitched games at Coors Field and in franchise history overall.

Lots of guys of a talent level good enough to reach the majors can catch lightning in a bottle for at least one game. Armando Galarraga threw a perfect game (he did) and was out of the league less than a year later.

So, instead of once again looking at individual games or even seasons, we decided to go full throttle and simple give you the Colorado Rockies All-Time Starting Rotation.

These are, in our view, the five best pitchers to ever don purple pinstripes.

For clarification, only their career in Colorado was taken into consideration – good and bad;  nothing outside of their time with the Denver nine has been factored into the list.

Honorable Mention: Jeff Francis, Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Jennings, Pedro Astacio

Francis ranks third in team history with 64 wins and was the best pitcher on the most successful team Colorado has produced. He wasn’t nearly as dominating as the guys who made our rotation and wasn’t as strong at the beginning or end of his career, but his peak was quite good. He’s 10th on the charts in WAR and 11th in ERA.

Jennings is a similar case. In the pre-humidor era, he was unable to achieve much in the way of longevity or dominance, but he weathered the storm quite a bit better than most of his contemporaries.

Jhoulys Chacin has the second-best ERA in franchise history, a stat in which few fans may be aware. He never felt like the scariest pitcher during his time in purple, but he was fairly consistently above average. He ranks fourth in WAR, ninth in wins, but 19th in Win-Loss percentage which reveals the lack of killer instinct and ability to carry a team that one would typically associate with being an ace. Eventually, he was cut from the team over questions of his weight and commitment and there was zero fan backlash.

Pedro Astacio was a more beloved version of Chacin. He was above average but never elite. He is in the Top 10 in most Rockies pitching categories but isn’t in the top five in any of them.

The Starting Rotation

1. Ubaldo Jimenez

The most dominant pitcher in Rockies history, Jimenez ranks first in WAR, ERA, and hits given up per nine innings. He is second in total strikeouts and WHIP. The only blemish on his Rockies resume is that he didn’t last as long as some others. He is fifth in franchise history in terms of games started, also sitting in fifth for Wins and Win-Loss percentage.

He threw the only no-hitter in franchise history, came the closest to legitimately being considered a Cy Young winner in 2010, and if you had to pick one pitcher in his prime from this entire article to pitch a game for your life, it would be Jimenez.

2. Jorge De La Rosa

Unless maybe you choose Jorge De La Rosa.

Whatever George of the Rose lacked in the “stuff” department when compared to Jimenez, he more than made up for with longevity and by being head and shoulders better than anyone else in one of the most offensive-friendly environments in the history of baseball.

His numbers at home are staggering.

He won – and we still can’t believe this is true – 72 percent of his games pitched at Coors Field. Eat your heart out Cy Young and Cal Ripken Jr: that is the most unbreakable record in baseball.

His 53-20 record at 20th and Blake is insane. The winningest pitcher in franchise history, De La also holds the franchise strikeout crown with 212 more than Jimenez.

If you need someone to pitch for your life and that game happens to take place at Coors Field, you better choose this guy.

3. Aaron Cook

Cook is one of the most underrated pitchers of a generation. The more we understand about the ballpark in Denver, the more amazing his accomplishments are.

He has thrown more innings as a Rockie than anyone, even De La Rosa, and is second in WAR and Wins.

You won’t find him on the strikeout leaderboards and a 4.53 ERA is only good for seventh all-time. But when you consider how long he was able to pitch and during the era of inflated earn run averages, it becomes clear that he was perhaps the steadiest hand in franchise history.

Even De La Rosa was much better at home than out on the road. Consistency is one of the most underrated tools a ballplayer can have, and so it makes sense that this underrated player would make that tool his calling card.

4. Jon Gray

Already? Yes.

Jon Gray already has a case for being a middle-rotation guy on the All-Time team and he only has up to go from here.

Even before reaching his true prime, Gray has eclipsed Jimenez’ record for strikeouts per nine innings, making him the best swing-and-miss artist in franchise history. He already ranks seventh in franchise history in the accumulating stats WAR and Wins. He’s sixth in ERA, fourth in Win-Loss percent, third in WHIP, and fifth in total strikeouts.

We aren’t giving him credit for things not yet done, but having just turned 28-years-old, and taking huge strides forward at home last season, it could be just a few short years before he stands atop the rankings to head this rotation.

5. German Márquez

That’s right. Two of the five best pitchers in Rockies history are on the current roster and both are well shy of their 30th birthday.

An argument could absolutely be made that it is just a bit too early to put the 25-year-old Marquez on this list, but there’s enough substantial evidence for the case.

Second only to Gray in K/9 and first in WHIP, nobody has been better at keeping runners off base. Or, depending on how you view it, no one has been more effective against hitters than the boy from San Felix.

Ranking first in Win-Loss percentage, no one has given the Rockies a better chance to win that day’s ballgame than Marquez.

He also has the lowest walk rate in franchise history, the fourth best ERA, and the sixth best WAR.

It’s quite possible that over the next several years he experiences some recession. But that seems far less likely than a guy entering his prime and at the very least maintaining his production levels from when he was 23. If he manages to improve on his numbers he will skyrocket up this list in a hurry.


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