I was wrong. I was flat, dead wrong when I said last month that the Colorado Rockies signing pitcher Jeff Francis was a mistake. I felt like I had good reasons given his recent pitching history but those concerns have been unwarranted. After just one really bad outing in his first start at Coors Field, Francis has settled down and the Rockies have won the last five games that Francis has started. He is looking more and more like a player the Rockies could use effectively the rest of this disappointing season.
Francis' first start saw him give up eight earned runs in just 3.1 innings to start his 2012 season out with a 21.60 ERA. In five starts since then he's only given up nine more runs. His consistent performances have lowered his ERA in every start down to a far more respectable 5.16 after his win on July 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Francis has been the stabilizing pitching presence on the team that fellow starter Jeremy Guthrie should have been. Guthrie has struggled greatly at Coors Field and was demoted for a while to the bullpen. The Rockies have lost nine of the last ten games that Guthrie has pitched in and, while the Rockies are promoting Guthrie back up to a starting position this week, I don't expect Guthrie to remain with the team much longer.
Guthie's struggles (along with much of the rest of the starting rotation) were a major reason why manager Jim Tracy decided to put his starting rotation on a mandatory, albeit unorthodox, 75-pitch count starting in June. That pitch count restriction, a source of frustration to fans, is being relaxed now a bit by Tracy. Some of that may be due to the effectiveness of Francis. He clearly has had the ability to go longer in several of the games he has pitched recently but was pulled typically by the sixth inning when he had reached 75 pitches.
In what has become one of the most disappointing seasons that the Colorado Rockies have ever had in the history of their franchise, Jeff Francis is one of the few bright spots. The Rockies made the right move in signing him, and I certainly hope that he can continue this success for the rest of the season. It might be exactly the kind of building block that the Rockies can use to propel themselves to a more exciting second half and gives fans a real reason to cheer.
Julie has been a baseball fan her entire life. While she grew up in a family of Los Angeles Dodgers fans, she became a Colorado Rockies game upon moving to Denver in 2001.