Kiszla: Bud Black has Rockies on the verge of a playoff berth. Why he’s NL manager of the year.

It was a walk Bud Black had taken hundreds of times as a manager. But as Black strolled to the mound for the second time in the ninth inning for a pitching change during the Rockies’ 15-9 victory against Miami, the idea hit me:

This is why Black is the National League manager of the year.

The Rockies would not be here, on the cusp of their first playoff appearance since 2009, without him.

Yes, there are other great candidates to be celebrated for outstanding managerial work in the NL. Dave Roberts has already won more than 100 games with the Dodgers. In his first year as skipper of the Diamondbacks, Torey Lovullo brought baseball prosperity back to the Arizona desert. Craig Counsell, who gives scrappy a good name, has Milwaukee fighting for the playoffs until the end, and who honestly saw that coming?

But none of those fine gentlemen work in the madhouse that is Coors Field. On a misty Wednesday afternoon, were the Rockies chilling champagne in their humidor? Maybe there wasn’t any room left for the baseballs, which got hit so hard around the yard that Black was forced to make late pitching changes in a game the Rockies led 14-3 after seven innings. It’s enough to make a manager draw another line through his lineup card and order a bourbon on the rocks.

Nothing makes a manager look smarter than six strong innings by his starting pitcher. So let me drop a statistic on you: The top four pitchers of the starting rotations of Los Angeles, Arizona and Milwaukee have combined to throw more than 600 innings. The top four starters the Rockies will take into the playoffs figure to be Jon Gray, German Marquez, Tyler Anderson and Chad Bettis. They have combined to throw 391 2/3 innings this season. Black has had to do more patchwork with his starting staff than was required of Roberts, Lovullo or Counsell.