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Starting pitching has surprised for Rockies

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DENVER -- Perhaps the biggest surprise for the first-place Rockies five games into the season is the quality starting pitching they have boasted.

Colorado has a 3.15 ERA, with its starters posting a 3.10 ERA after one trip through the rotation. They saw four quality starts, with only Jorge De La Rosa struggling. He allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings in a game the Rockies went on to win 8-4.

"They've all given us a chance to win, and then some," manager Walt Weiss said. "They're doing the things that we talked about this spring. Guys are less concerned about east and west, and are really thinking about pitching to the bottom of the zone and putting the ball on the ground. These guys are buying in that when you're at the bottom of the zone and you stay in decent counts, you can be very effective."

The pitchers have a longer leash than the Rockies closed the season with, and deeper pitch counts than they've typically enjoyed early in the season, with several starters getting into the 90s during their first start. Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio both reached 97 pitches, while Jhoulys Chacin went to 94, Jon Garland 75 and De La Rosa 77.

"We've got four of our starters who missed a lot of time last year," Weiss said of Chacin, De La Rosa, Nicasio and Garland, who each missed the majority of 2012 to injury, with Garland not throwing a pitch. "I certainly am aware of [pitch counts], and it's a factor. But I haven't had to push that button early. Some of these guys have been in the 90s, and I think that's a good place to be. Especially for the guys that had some issues last year physically."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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