'Dragon Slayer' ready for Game 3
Rockies' Fogg nicknamed for beating top-notch pitchers
DENVER -- When Josh Fogg arrived at Coors Field for Saturday's workout, he found half of his locker covered with an elaborate painting that depicted him as a Dragon Slayer.
After watching Fogg conquer five of the National League's top pitchers during the regular season's final month, Matt Holliday playfully tabbed the less-than-imposing Fogg as "The Dragon Slayer." Now the term stands as more than simply a nickname for the Rockies right-hander, who was unaware of the artist who'd provided him this colorful piece.
"I think it's really well done, really artistic and kind of shocking to tell you the truth," said Fogg, while speaking of the painting and also providing a fitting description of the past three weeks that he and his Rockies teammates have enjoyed.
When Fogg makes his first career postseason start on Sunday night, he and his Rockies teammates won't be basking in the glory created by the fact that they've won 19 of their past 20 games. Nor can they allow themselves to simply be satisfied by the fact that they own a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series against the Diamondbacks.
Instead, they can only look at what's left to accomplish and at the same time attempt to feed off the frenzy that will be created when the city of Denver is given its first chance to host an NLCS game.
"When this place is packed and loud, it's a lot of fun," Fogg said. "You try to step back and regroup and not let it get the best of you. But definitely, you feel the energy."
Fogg tasted this energy on Oct. 1, when he started the NL Wild Card tiebreaker game against the Padres. Although he lasted just four innings, he still played a part in that victory, which reserved Colorado's spot in the postseason and ultimately gave him this next opportunity to move the Rockies one step closer to the World Series.
"He seems to relish in those big games," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "He's done a great job for us all year. Obviously, everybody knows he doesn't have overpowering stuff. He's kind of just a finesse guy. He pitches to contact and kind of just lets his defense work. He's been doing it all year, so why change now?"
Based on the success Fogg enjoyed while facing Brandon Webb, Chris Young, Dontrelle Willis, Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Jake Peavy in his final six regular-season starts, there isn't any reason to change. He earned wins against Webb, Young and Lowe. The only loss the Rockies suffered in these six games came when the bullpen squandered a lead in his confrontation against Willis.
After watching Fogg go 3-0 with a 3.82 ERA in his final seven starts and do so against starters who are much more highly regarded, Holliday and many other Rockies began utilizing the nickname that is now depicted in the artistic gem.
"The joke in here is that I'm not good enough to beat any No. 1 [starters]," Fogg said. "So if my team doesn't think I'm good and [opponents] don't think I'm good, then maybe that's why I win."
Fogg's success down the stretch and his career-long success against the Diamondbacks earned him the opportunity to make this Game 3 start. In 12 career starts against Arizona, he's 6-1 with a 3.57 ERA. In the four starts he made against them this year, he was 1-1 with a 2.62 ERA -- the lowest mark he posted against any team that he made multiple starts against.
"These guys have seen me a lot. and I've seen them a lot," Fogg said. "So it really comes down to who is able to make the adjustments quicker."
Fogg's mound counterpart on Sunday will be Livan Hernandez, who has had his share of success against the Rockies and certainly isn't a stranger to October's fervor. He is 6-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 11 career postseason appearances (nine starts).
As for his success against the Rockies, it's primarily been realized over the past six months. In five games against them this year, he's posted a 1.54 ERA. In the past 22 innings the veteran right-hander has completed against Colorado, he's surrendered just two runs.
Fogg's only career loss against the Diamondbacks came on May 17, when he and Hernandez locked up and both allowed just one earned run over seven innings. An unearned run led to that lone setback.
Still, as Fogg has shown over the course of the past five weeks, he's not the type of guy who is going to be intimidated by the challenge presented by the guy who will be sharing the mound with him on any given evening.
"Nobody thinks about the last three weeks," Fogg said. "Everybody thinks about the one game ahead. I think that's one reason I've been successful the last month."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.