After pulling out the extra-inning game last night, the Rockies have fallen behind early today against the Mets thanks to another weak outing from Jeff Francis, Sports Illustrated cover jinx victim. What is it that has troubled Francis so this season? He's nibbled with all of his pitches instead of using early-count fastball strikes to set up his breaking stuff on the edge. Francis is a guy who's been consistently effective while seldom being particularly unhittable; it's an uptick in walks -- and a corresponding jump in pitch counts -- that has led to his getting torched so far in 2008.
I wonder if losing the first game of the World Series, and getting lit up in the process, plays on the Channel's mind still. Or it could be his change in status -- being the perceived ace of a bad team is much less pressure than being the #1 on a title holder. I would like to have seen the organization bring in another top-flight starter to both push Francis to excel and paradoxically take some of the load off at the same time. That's what Arizona did in acquiring Dan Haren, and look where that's taken them. The acquisition didn't come attached to a massive leap in payroll level either.
It could be that the Rockies' luck is changing and they've got that sort of pitcher already in the fold in Greg Reynolds or Ubaldo Jimenez. (Or, I pray, both.) I suppose it's more of a philosophical question whether the explosion of fan interest in Denver last fall obligated management to make more aggressive moves towards defending their pennant in '08.