Every season provides a new story. Every year unfolds in a new way. The 2015 season is no different.
In a late announcement, the Colorado Rockies scratched Jorge De La Rosa from his scheduled start on Tuesday in Cincinnati. A cut that was on his throwing hand hasn't healed and was causing enough discomfort to force the Rockies ace to miss his start. That meant that the Rockies would have to turn to Triple-A lefty Chris Rusin.
The emergency starter did far better than anyone could have ever expected from him. He pitched seven extremely efficient innings, giving up just one run on four hits. He walked four and struck out five. The walks may have been on the high side, but he wasn't struggling with command. In the 90 pitches that he threw he delivered 61 for strikes. One of the walks came in the 5th inning with a runner on third base. Righty Todd Frazier was at the plate and Jay Bruce, a lefty, on deck. Instead of facing the righty, it seemed that Rusin wisely elected to pitch around Frazier and go for Bruce. The move worked and Rusin got out of the inning.
The start was a welcome sign for the Rockies, who have now had a run of really good starts from their rotation. Rusin is probably about the third or fourth option, but even when called upon, he did a great job and showed that he might actually be a decent option if he needs to be called upon again.
The Rockies are not a good team. On a night when they only needed to score a handful of runs to win the game, the offense completely failed to show up. The Rockies only put up one run on four hits. While Rusin was good for the Rockies, Michael Lorenzen matched him pitch-for-pitch. He went seven strong innings of his own, giving up only two hits. The lone run came when catcher Nick Hundley blasted a mammoth home run to left field. Beyond that, it was nothing.
Speaking of Hundley, the catcher is showing just how valuable he is to this young pitching staff. The Root Sports camera crew did a great job in the 5th inning focusing on Hundley. After Rusin had semi-intentionally walked Frazier to get to Bruce, Hundley walked Rusin through the at-bat. Hundley visibly calmed Rusin down, reminding him to calm down with his arms. He then slowly went through the pitch options, looking like he was reminding Rusin that he would be there to frame the pitch and make it look good. Ultimately, Rusin was able to strike out Bruce with a changeup that ducked the bat of Bruce.
Hundley's ability to know the batter that his pitcher is facing, and knowing the stuff of the pitcher that he is catching is important. However, more than any of the physical skills that he possesses is the importance of his ability to instill confidence into the pitcher that he is catching. With two runners on and a batter at the plate with a ton of power, Rusin could have allowed the situation to get to him. He could have over-thought what pitch he needed to throw and allowed his solid start to unravel. Instead, Hundley walked him through the at-bat and led the way for him. For a young pitcher, or one with very little Major League experience, having a catcher like that is huge.
The Rockies season may be unfolding similarly to many seasons passed. However, each season brings it's own story. Every season there is something new to watch for. While 2014 was the season in which it got to the point of fans needing to ask when the changes were going to make, other seasons entail more excitement than the steps backwards that need to be taken to move forward.
It might not be a great year for the Rockies, but it is the first year in which they can move forward. It is the year in which they build the future with a new management team in place.
The criticism of new general manager Jeff Bridich is that he is a disciple of Dan O'Dowd. It is easy for fans to wish that the Rockies would have looked outside of the organization. However, Bridich has shown in a small sample size that he is going to do things differently.
Hundley is one example of that, as is the signing of John Axford. Bridich can't turn things around in a couple of months, so 2015 is the year in which he begins to set a new tone for this franchise. Much like a college coach taking over for a previous team, the first couple of seasons are about what he can do with the other guys recruits. After a couple of seasons, the fan base gets to see what the coach can do with his own team.
The Rockies season isn't going to be a great one, but there are still reasons to watch. It isn't the exact same story all over again. This is the year in which the Rockies start fresh and build with someone new making the decisions.
It might not be what angry Rockies fans want to talk about right now, but the reality is, it isn't going to happen overnight, and fans need to give the new regime a chance.