(WTNH)–It’s August, and for the first time in almost a decade, the Colorado Rockies are still playing meaningful baseball.
For that, they can thank longtime star position players like Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds. But there’s also a group of former Yard Goats–mostly pitchers–who have contributed mightily to the Rockies’ surprising run of success in the venerable N.L. West.
As of August 1, Colorado is 60-46, five and a half games up on Milwaukee for the second wildcard spot and a berth in the playoffs.
Here’s a look at the former mostly “Road Goats” who have made big contributions:
Kyle Freeland, SP
The rookie lefty has been Colorado’s most dependable starting pitcher this year, having posted 11 wins and a 3.71 ERA in a team-leading 121.1 innings this season. He’s also made a team-best 12 quality starts. The 24-year-old is a big reason Colorado has been able to ascend to contender status in the N.L.
With Hartford, Freeland was 5-7 with a 3.87 ERA in 88.1 innings last season.
German Marquez, SP
The 22-year-old righty from Venezuela was one of last year’s “Road Goats” who dominated the Eastern League during the first half of the year despite playing most of their season away from Connecticut, and the rest borrowing time in front of scarce crowds at Norwich’s Dodd Stadium.
Since his promotion to the bigs this year, Marquez has won nine games for the Rockies, posting a 4.08 ERA (solid considering Coors Field) and a 1.29 WHIP. He’s also struck out 95 batters in 97 innings pitched.
Raimel Tapia, OF
The speedy outfielder has hit .306 with a .358 on-base percentage and three steals in 42 games with Colorado this season, although he’s bounced back and forth between Triple-A Albuquerque and the big league club.
Rockies fans were pretty upset when the team sent Tapia down to Triple-A on July 18, as manager Bud Black cited a crowded outfield. He’s back in the bigs now, and if performance is any indicator, he should be there for quite a while.
Antonio Senzatela, SP
The 22-year-old righthander went 4-1 with a transcendent 1.82 ERA for the Yard Goats in 2016, and he was just as good in his first seven weeks in the bigs. Senzatela raced out to a 7-1 record with a 3.19 ERA, including eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals on May 26. After he began to struggle, Colorado moved him to the bullpen to keep his arm fresh, and he’s since rejoined the rotation.
For the season, Senzatela is 10-4 with a 4.84 ERA and 75 K’s in 102 innings.
Pat Valaika, IF
Valaika spent 108 games on the road with the ‘Goats last season before being called up to Triple-A. He’s played most of this year in the majors, batting .258 with nine homers and 28 RBI.
Brendan Rodgers, SS.
The current Yard Goat is considered one of the top prospects in baseball , and he should find his way to Colorado soon.
David Dahl, OF.
After slumming it on the road with the 2016 ‘Goats, Dahl tied a 75-year-old major league record by hitting safely in 17 straight games to start his big league career last year. He was expected to be with the big league club to start this season, but went down with a lacerated spleen and has missed the entire season.
Ryan McMahon, 3B.
A marquee prospect to start the year in Hartford, McMahon raked (.326 BA, 32 RBI) before being called up to Triple-A Albuquerque. With one of the game’s best third baseman in Arenado, McMahon’s path to the bigs is a little bit tricky right now, but if he keeps hitting (he’s at .396 in 217 at-bats in Albuquerque!), they’ll find a spot for him.