Is Rockies’ pitching finally peaking? – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers and Rockies played Game 16 Wednesday night. That’s the rough equivalent of finishing the seventh hole on Thursday at the Masters.

So we don’t know much.

We know that the Dodgers remain incapable of dealing with lefties, whether they be Lefty Frizzell, Lefty Driesell, Zurdo Ramirez, Phil Mickelson or Elizabeth Warren.

And it appears that the Rockies might be learning how to pitch in the Hurt Locker, also known as Coors Field.

If true, this would be a significant development in the NL West.

Every year since 2011, the Rockies have ranked 14th, 15th or 16th in league ERA.

They did rank fifth in ERA and third in walks in 2007. They won their only National League championship, too.

The franchise leader in wins is Jorge De La Rosa. With 86. The franchise leaders in ERA are Ubaldo Jimenez and Jhoulys Chacin. Theirs are the only ERAs under 4.00.

Jim Leyland lasted one season in Colorado, in part because he just didn’t feel he could manage a conventional ballgame there. There were huge outfield gaps, the mile-high altitude and the mental stigma of trying to pitch inside your kid’s bouncy house.

How to cope?

Well, the Rockies’ 4.17 home ERA is 10th in the league and its 1.28 WHIP is ninth. Not there yet, obviously. But the Rockies have played just six games at Coors.

Overall, their bullpen is second to the Dodgers in WHP (1.02). The Rockies also have won 10 of their first 15.

Two of their past three starts have been fine, including Tyler Chatwood’s two-hit, complete game in San Francisco on Sunday.

It would be better, but Chad Bettis is recovering from testicular cancer, and Jon Gray is on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his foot.

But the Rockies don’t have to pitch like the ’54 Indians to mount a challenge for the division, not with an offense that feasts on the 1,000-yard stares of visiting pitchers.

“You have to have a short memory to pitch there,” said Chatwood from Redlands East Valley, a former first-round pick for the Angels whom Jerry Dipoto donated to Colorado in exchange for catcher Chris Iannetta.

“It took me a while to realize that you have to shake things off, because we’re going to score a lot of runs, too. You have to avoid the free passes. You have to figure out that if you attack and execute pitches, it really isn’t any different from any other ballpark.”

The new manager is Bud Black,the former Angels pitcher and Padres manager. Black knows the walk from dugout to mound at Coors better than anyone, knows the glassy eyes of the relievers he would summon. He was determined to harvest confidence.

“The organization was in the process of acquiring better pitching talent before I got there,” Black said. “Beyond that, you emphasize that the other guy has to pitch here, too. Just be better than that guy.

“We also talked about the mental side. You had to have guys with the mental toughness to endure the chaotic games. Or the chaotic stat line you might have, and the…

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