CHICAGO -- Count the quality start as one of baseball's most maligned measurements. The minimum standard -- six innings and three earned runs -- computes to a 4.50 ERA, which is the quality of the back of the rotation. But when a team isn't meeting that standard consistently, like the 2012 Rockies, it means a lot. And it's meaningful to get some consistent quality starts, the way they are this season.
Jeff Francis' six innings, with one run and seven strikeouts, in Tuesday night's 9-4 victory over the Cubs, was the Rockies' 17th quality start of the season. Last year, they managed just 27 in 162 games. Even for Colorado, which can get away with less-than-dominating pitching more than most clubs, that's an unacceptable figure, and a key stat in its losing a club-record 98 games.
The most the Rockies have had in a season is 94 in 2009, when they earned a National League Wild Card. When they went to the World Series in 2007, they had 76 -- fourth-most. By August that season, however, four of their five starters were on the disabled list, but the team made the playoffs with decent work by call-ups and replacements, and stellar bullpen efforts.
The second-fewest quality starts Colorado has had was 47 in 1994.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.