2012 Colorado Rockies
2012 Colorado Rockies / Franchise: Colorado Rockies / BR Team Page
Managed by Jim Tracy
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2012 Colorado Rockies announced a drastic move on June 20th, after struggling with their starting rotation all season. Two of their starting pitchers in the early season, 49-year-old Jamie Moyer and rookie Drew Pomeranz, had fared so poorly that the former was released, and the latter sent down to the minor leagues for more seasoning. Two other starters, Jhoulys Chacin and Juan Nicasio, were on the disabled list. Lacking reliable starters, manager Jim Tracy thus announced that he would be using a four-man rotation, something almost unseen since the late 1970s, while keeping his starting pitchers on a pitch count of 75 pitches. Jeremy Guthrie, who had been counted on to be the anchor of the staff and was the only holdover from the Opening day rotation, had only put up a 3-6 record with an ERA over 7.00 at that point, and he was moved to the bullpen, to join a long relief crew that was expected to share much more of the innings burden. The starters had combined for a 6.31 ERA - worst in the majors - by that time, while the middle relievers had pitched considerably better. That left Jeff Francis, Josh Outman, Christian Friedrich and Alex White to start; the first two were considered reclamation projects, and the latter two were raw rookies. On June 26th, long-time pitching coach Bob Apodaca offered his resignation, explaining that he was out of ideas to right the situation. He was replaced by AAA pitching coach Bo McLaughlin, while GM Dan O'Dowd explained that he was thinking of even more radical experimentation with the pitching staff, such as completing blurring the line between starters and relievers.
All of this tinkering came in the midst of the worst season in the 20-year history of the Rockies. In addition to the pitching woes, injuries were a major concern for the Rox during the season. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki missed a large number of games because of an injury to his left groin that required surgery to remove scar tissue. Opening Day catcher Ramon Hernandez missed 42 games with a strained left hand. OF-1B Michael Cuddyer, rotated with fellow OF-1B Tyler Colvin between right field and first base because of Todd Helton's health problems - the first baseman was shut down with a hip injury after 69 games of hitting .238. But Cuddyer went on the disabled list on August 5th with a right oblique strain. Helton's backup at first base, Jason Giambi, missed some games because of a viral syndrome. Chris Nelson, the Opening Day third baseman, missed 17 games because of an irregular heartbeat before being sent down to AAA Colorado Springs.
The injury bug also affected the team's pitchers. In addition to Nicasio, who had surgery on left knee and Chacin, who suffered from a nerve issue in his chest, Christian Friedrich had a stress fracture in lower back. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa hoped to return from Tommy John surgery during the season, but his rehabilitation took longer than expected. At the end of August, management announced that the four-man rotation or "75-50" plan (named as such because the primary starter under the plan throws a maximum of 75 pitches, and his assigned "buddy" is limited to 50) would be used for the remainder of the season and in 2013 as well. That decision came in spite of negligible improvement since the scheme's introduction: the Rockies were 25-40 (.385) with a 5.29 ERA using a conventional rotation, and 28-36 (.438) with a 5.22 ERA since. The Rockies ended the year with a record of 64-98, the worst in team history, in last place in the NL West. A few days after the end of the season, on October 7th, manager Tracy handed in his resignation with a year left on his contract, stating that it was better for the Rockies to hire someone who was fully on-board with the team's new radical pitching philosophy.
One of the side results of the pitching experiment was that Rockies relief pitchers threw an inordinate amount of innings that season and as a result set a new major league record for strikeouts with 589. This was smashed by the 2015 New York Yankees, who used a conventional pitching strategy and exceeded the total in a much smaller number of relief innings.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Carlos Gonzalez
- NL Gold Glove Award: Carlos Gonzalez (LF)
- 2012 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Wilin Rosario (C)