Rockies Looking for Starters to Start Taking Charge, Freeland Gets Call Thursday

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Coming off back-to-back wild-card finishes, and with the rotation having been the foundation for success, the Rockies had visions of battling for the first division title in franchise history this season.

So far, however, they have been in a funk, battling to avoid last place in the NL West, not battling to claim a spot atop the division standings. They go into Thursday's game against the Giants with a 16-20 reocrd, tied for last place in the division with the Giants.

The Rockies can take hope in that twice in the five seasons in which they advanced to the post-season -- as a wild-card each time -- have the Rockies had a losing record 36 games into the season.

They opened the 2007 season 15-21, manager Clint Hurdle surviving a possible firing in June, and enjoying an eye-opening run down the stretch.

They won 14 of their final 15 regular-season games, including a dramatic Game 163 against the Padres to decide the NL wild-card, and then swept the Phillies in the NL Division Series, and D-backs in the NLCS before being swept by the Red Sox in the only World Series appearance in franchise history.

And two years later they were 15-21 after 36 games, but rallied and won a franchise-record 92 regular-season games to advance to the post-season, where they were eliminated in the Division Series by the Phillies.

The concern this year is that the rotation has been flat. The Rockies success the last two years has been built around a young, and dominating rotation. In claiming a wild-card spot a year ago, the Rockies had the second lowest rotation ERA (4.17) in franchise history. In fact, four of the five times the Rockies have advanced to the post-season, they have had a rotation ERA that ranked among the six lowest in franchise history. In 1995, the first year of Coors Field and before the humidor, the ERA of 5.19 for the starters was the 12th lowest in franchise history.

Right now the rotation has a 5.71 ERA. Only twice in the first 26 years of the Rockies has the rotation ERA been higher -- 2012 (5.81) and 1999 (6.19).

Kyle Freeland, who finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting a year ago and set franchise records for a starter with season ERA (2.85) and Coors Field ERA (2.40), goes into his Thursday start with a 5.90 ERA, 3.05 runs per nine innings higher than last yea'rs season ERA. And then there is Tyler Anderson, whose struggle created enough of a concern he was optioned to AAA Albuquerque. Anderson, who had a 4.55 ERA a year ago, saw that soar to 11.76 this season.

Now, Freeland did put on a strong finish after a slow start last year. He overcame a 1-3 record in his first five starts to go 14-4 the rest of the way. Breaking down on how the starters from a a year ago compare to what they have accomplished so far this season: