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  1. “His career xFIP of 4.37 is quite good, but his 5.02 ERA does not match the peripherals. This is almost entirely due to an inability to strand runners, as he’s got a LOB% of just 69.7% over the last three seasons.”

    xFIP normalizes HR/FB rates…and since we expect a higher HR rate in COL, one would in turn expect a natural gap between xFIP and ERA. (As you can see that perennially Rox pitchers are top 5 in the league in ERA minus xFIP). You’re right that his LOB% accounts for some of it as well, but that’s not nearly the only factor.

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 9:19 am

  2. Here’s something:

    de la Rosa is a guy that relies completely on the K to be effective, and in doing so his best pitch is, by far, is his slider. Considering the fact that COL suppresses Ks, and more specifically breaking balls, would de la Rosa have been better off shopping his wares to the tune of a 1 or 2 year deal to post a 9+ K/9 rate to establish himself as an elite strikeout SP? As it stands, his probably losing even more of the 8-10% he is expected to lose by pitching in the thin air, and if his true K/9 is somewhere in the mid 8s in Colorado, you can bet his he’d launch himself into the top 10 in the league with some heady names if he played a full season in a K friendly park.

    Maybe I should write for Fangraphs?

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  3. I’ll take back “by far”, because he got a lot of outs with this Changeup this year, and it looks like he’s really developed it over the past few seasons. But the point remains the same…

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 9:44 am

  4. I find it hard to believe at 30 years hold he would leave 31.5/42.5 on the table. Risking that for a one year deal assuming he will morph into an elite pitcher outside of Coors, with a very short track record to boot, seems…questionable.

    Comment by John — December 1, 2010 @ 10:14 am

  5. What do you mean by Coors suppresses breaking balls?

    There was a pretty good study that shows it’s actually fastballs that are most impacted by the thin air, rather than breaking balls at Coors (seems count-intuitive, but I’d rather trust pitch F/X movement plots rather than my gut here)…

    Comment by Resolution — December 1, 2010 @ 10:32 am

  6. @Resolution

    Even if that’s true, he could clearly use some help with his fastballs too, and no matter what pitches are affected Coors indisputably suppresses Ks more than any park in the league.

    @John

    (First off, I didn’t mean elite pitcher, I meant elite strikeout pitcher, and a K/9 of mid 9s would definitely qualify.)

    If he thinks he’s fleecing COL, then sure, you’re right. Take the money, as this is the last real (8 figure) payday he’ll ever see. But if he actually believes in his ability, and that he is really the same pitcher that he’s been for the last 3 seasons (he made significant changes to his approach when he arrived at COL, favoring the slider over the curve, and developing a Changeup) then why not take a 1 year deal?

    Say he signs 1/12 with another club. Yes, there are some bad scenarios: worst case he gets hurt and never plays again. Ok, bad move. Chances of that? ~1%? He could simply pitch poorly and get unlucky. The next deal he’ll sign would be less than this one, but he could take another one year deal for only a little less money. My point is, the bad scenarios aren’t that bad. Of course he may like Colorado (who doesn’t? It’s an awesome place…) and that’s great. But for a guy who is just hitting the peak of his ability and entering the 4th year of his kind of “reborn” phase, taking a 1-year deal in a non-Coors field park, where his ERA is bound to come down, and K/9 bound to go up, to me, is a plus EV salary move.

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  7. Thanks for the unbiased article Chris. Time will tell whether DLR is hitting his stride and can get his pitch count down to stay in games longer and if he can avoid some odd injuries that have prevented him from completing a whole season the last few years.

    If he can pitch the way he did the second half of 2009, I think this deal looks very good for the Rockies.

    Great point on the high walk rate from DLR Chris, I think that is the major thing keeping him from a more upper echelon of pitchers.

    Comment by Jeff — December 1, 2010 @ 11:43 am

  8. I also think breaking balls are affected by not only air density but grip issues caused by a dry climate.

    As a Rox fan, I’m happy with this deal and it seems to be win/win. DLR is certainly inconsistent; 10-11M a year is great for a top of the rotation guy but not good for a bottom of the rotation guy and either DLR can show up unfortunately. I prefer this to the Tulo deal.

    Comment by Griggs — December 1, 2010 @ 11:53 am

  9. This is not the Chris Quick who runs Bay City Ball?

    Comment by ldd233 — December 1, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  10. I thought Carl Pavano was the second best free agent starting pitcher on the market…

    Comment by JK — December 1, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

  11. DLR was 1 k/9 better on the road in 2008, when he joined the Rockies.

    2009, even home-road k/9 splits.

    2010: 9.5 k/9 @ coors. 6.9 k/9 on road.

    Comment by Dave — December 1, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

  12. I also think breaking balls are affected by not only air density but grip issues caused by a dry climate.

    Grip issues are also (probably more) affected by humidity … hence the “rosin bag” to dry the hands (via moisture absorption).

    Curveballs thrive on wind resistance. There’s the problem in high altitude.

    As one who pitched in ChicagoLand (college), the days when the wind was blowing directly out to center were both a blessing and a curse. Curveballs were going to drop better than ever (Bernoulli’s Principle), but fastball velocity would be decreased slightly, and anything hit high in the air was going to be ridiculous.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 1, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

  13. A couple things: 2010 was a SSS, lets look at his entire splits over the past 3 years:

    Home K/9 = 9.1
    Road K/9 = 8.7

    Now, baked into those numbers are home field advantage, and in case you didn’t know, about 1/3 of HF advantage is based of purely a larger strikezone.

    So, despite him actually posting a better K/9 in Coors in his past ~420 innings of work, if his home park were somewhere else, and assuming no sample size issues, he’s still definitely going to see his K rate go up with a change of uniform.

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  14. Yea. I’ll admit I just assumed that the air density was why breaking balls suffered, I don’t actually have any proof or references… aside from a degree in physics.

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

  15. OK. Maybe DLR is an outlier? One pitcher is a small sample size. So I looked at the total TEAM pitching splits for a season.

    Rockies TEAM pitching splits for 2010:

    home k/9: 7.7
    road k/9: 7.7

    Rockies TEAM pitching splits for 2009:

    home k/9: 7.2
    road k/9: 7.2

    Coors does not appear to change k/9 rates.

    Comment by Dave — December 1, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

  16. You are again missing the home field advantage that I just explained. Now go check every other team in the league’s home/road K/9 splits. The majority will be better at home. What you are seeing is Coors poor K environment negating their homefield advantage. Also, go back a few more years and keep looking. For various reasons park factors take about 4 years to get a decent degree of certainty.

    Comment by Lee — December 1, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

  17. “I don’t actually have any proof or references… aside from a degree in physics.”

    OOOOOH FACE! He done busted out the degree.

    Comment by Jason B — December 1, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

  18. I don’t see much of the Rockies but where does he fit in their rotation, 2-5. I know Jimenez is one but what’s the rest of the rotation?

    Comment by tonysoprano — December 1, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  19. If Chacin continues as he did in 2010, and gets ground balls at the 55%+ rate he did in the minors he will become the 2, then De La Rosa, then Hammel, then Cook.

    Comment by Tomcat — December 2, 2010 @ 1:57 am

  20. You have a source for this home field theory? I’ve seen plenty of Rockies home games where you couldn’t put a pitch down the middle and get a called strike. This kinda sounds like it may have come out of… Well, I think you know where I’m going with that.

    Comment by Chris — December 2, 2010 @ 2:51 am

  21. colorado rockies
    team IP:1446
    road K:600
    home K:634

    yeah, that’s pretty epic home field advantage, especially considering that only 4 rockies pitchers passed 100 Ks, and the two closest were relievers (betancourt 89 and belisle 91)…

    Comment by fredsbank — December 2, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

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