Joel Bartilotta takes a look at the Rockies’ season so far and conducts a regression analysis on the team, making his season predictions in the process.
I’ve watched more Rockies games than I’d like to admit living in Denver and they’ve always been a constant in my life. A constant pain in the behind. This team is one of the most difficult organizations to understand and a lot of has to do with their ballpark. They’ve gotten off to an incredible start this season though, with a 12-5 record. That has many MLB fans are wondering if this team is legit. That’s what we’re going to focus on here, so, let’s get into it!
If you have any comments or questions, reach me on Twitter @Bartilottajoel.
Let’s kick things off by going over some past history. Colorado fans are always excited in April, May and June but things start falling apart rather quickly after that. Here’s a list of how they started and where they finished over the last decade.
2019: Starts 40-34/Finishes 71-91
2018: Starts 30-25/Finishes 91-72
2017: Starts 41-23/Finishes 87-75
2016: Starts 32-33/Finishes 75-87
2015: Starts 27-30/Finishes 68-94
2014: Starts 26-20/Finishes 66-96
2013: Starts 27-21/Finishes 74-88
2012: Starts 12-12/Finishes 64-98
2011: Starts 17-8/Finishes 73-89
2010: Starts 49-38/Finishes 83-79
While there are a few seasons that have gone well the whole way through, you can see that there’s a lot of letdowns in the second half. There are many reasons for that. Some of those include injuries, regression and bullpen meltdowns. God, the amount of bullpen meltdowns I’ve witnessed as a Rockies fan would make anybody hate their home team.
It would be easy to sit here and say that the Rockies will fall apart again but a 60-game sprint caters perfectly to this team. This hot start has them already in contention to reach the postseason and it would take a steady collapse to fall out with 16 teams getting in. That makes this team super dangerous going forward but there’s a lot of things telling me that rough times are ahead.
The first being the regression for the pitchers. We already saw that from Jon Gray, when his ERA went from 3.31 to 6.41 on Monday, with Coors Field ruining his beautiful numbers. He’s not the only one who’s got regression coming his way. Antonio Senzatela is pitching to a 2.65 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while Kyle Freeland has a 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Freeland had a 6.73 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 2018 while Senzatela had a 6.71 ERA and 1.75 WHIP. One has to believe that both of those guys aren’t that bad but it also means that they can’t be as good as their early 2020 numbers would tell us either.
The peripherals tell us that regression is fast approaching too, with Freeland tallying a 4.30 xFIP, .235 BABIP and 15.7 percent K rate. Senzatela is at a 4.33 xFIP and 16 percent career K rate.
The most important factor with this team is their bullpen though and I doubt their numbers will hold either. Jeff Hoffman, Carlos Estevez and Tyler Kinley have combined to throw 22 innings this season, allowing just one run between the three of them. That equates to an ERA below 0.50 and that’s unsustainable, especially in a place like Coors Field.
What also worries me is the fact that this team has no fifth starter. Chi Chi Gonzalez had the first crack at that fifth starter job but got injured. Ryan Castellani actually filled that role just last week, going four scoreless innings in his debut. That’s a guy who provided a 9.00 ERA and 2.04 WHIP in the minors in 2019 though and he’s simply not trustworthy behind those numbers.
The final guy who’s due for negative regression is Charlie Blackmon. This dude is absolutely lights-out right now, hitting .500 across his first 18 games en route to a .721 SLG and 1.248 OPS. I mean, the guy is hitting .500 and carrying this offense with his little league numbers. A .519 BABIP will cause crazy numbers like that though and Rockies fans are just hopeful that Nolan Arenado will get hot when Blackmon’s numbers eventually regress.
The final thing that makes me skeptical is their schedule. They still have 10 matchups with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seven games against the San Diego Padres. Those are some division foes who could cause chaos and it doesn’t even take into consideration that the Rockies still have to face the Los Angeles Angels, Houston Astros and Oakland A’s. That means this rotation and bullpen need to hold things together and that looks like an uphill battle when you consider all of the regression headed their way.
My Prediction & Bets to Consider
Even with all the negative points in the article, I still see the Rockies finishing above .500 and reaching the postseason. I’d say a 32-28 record sounds about right and an early exit out of the postseason. With that said, the odds are crazy for this team. This is a club who’s shown the ability to rip off wins against good teams and a month of good pitching could lead to a deep run. That’s why I like the future bets with this team (all odds from DraftKings Sportsbook).
All of these odds are higher than they should be. The best bet of the bunch is an NL crown.
I’d love the division bet if it were closer to 10-1 but getting 33-1 on an NL title is definitely a solid value. Obviously, it’s a long-odds bet but even if they reach the postseason and advance a round or two, you can hedge that and grab a great middle with their opponent at some point.
In any case, people are sleeping on this team and they definitely have the potential to surprise some, even if regression is fast-approaching.