He was the guy who snuck into the bullpen to start the season, then got so sick from a meal at Denny’s that he pulled his oblique, and then came up from the Sky Sox to make appearances as a starter that were accompanied by a certain measure of hopefulness.
For all of the unique events that have marked Outman’s tenure with the Colorado Rockies thus far, any hopefulness for him came crashing to a temporary halt as he struggled with the big league team. He was eventually sent all the way down to AA Tulsa to work as a member of their starting rotation. While the difference between Tulsa and Colorado Springs is not necessarily a punishment because of the problems with developing pitching at altitude, it was still a sure sign that Outman had taken a step backwards with the organization.
Since that demotion Outman has been out of sight, out of mind. He re-emerged the other night with the news that he was one strike away from a no-hitter in his victory over the Springfield Cardinals. He struck out 9 and walked 5 in the effort. The walks explain how Outman managed to surrender an RBI single on the same swing that broke up his no-hit bid.
As the Rockies make a permanent commitment to the paired pitching system, Outman’s glowing performance ultimately is more a problem than anything else. Whether the Rockies decide to limit starters to a pitch count or to seeing the opponents’ lineup twice, it means that nobody is pitching deep into the game. Outman will never have the chance to do what he did Thursday night if he makes it back to the Rockies in the near future.
Doesn’t it make sense to utilize the paired pitching system throughout the organization? Doesn’t it make sense for pitchers to learn how to work within that system from the early stages of their development? Otherwise this is like training for a marathon, only to end up running a one mile race.
The Rockies have a lot to decide with this “radical” change on the big league club. Outman’s near-moment-of-glory represents one of those pending decisions: how the minor league pitchers should be developed, and if it actually makes any sense to let starters stretch out, pitch deep into games, and pursue complete games when they will never do so with the big club.