DJ LeMahieu‘s strong play since his arrival with the Rockies gave the team no choice but to carve out more playing time for him. That it would cost opening day Josh Rutledge some playing time was inevitable. That it would cost him his spot on the big league roster is another story entirely.
On Wednesday night the Rockies announced the surprising demotion of Rutledge to make room for Michael Cuddyer to return from the disabled list. That means that other candidates such as Charlie Blackmon and Jonathan Herrera get to remain with the club while Rutledge fine tunes some things with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. It was going to be a tough decision no matter what, but Rutledge is the only choice that would cause some shock waves in the organization.
Starting most of the Rockies’ games thus far, Rutledge has batted .242/.298/.357. Consistency has been an issue, along with an unlucky .262 BABIP that will presumably improve over time. He has also had some issues on the defensive side of things, committing 4 errors on the season. As recently as last week’s series in Chicago Rutledge was the hottest hitter on the roster. The problem is, when Rutledge has gone cold this season he has gone really cold. Having jumped straight from AA Tulsa last year, this will be the 24-year-old’s first stint in AAA.
It appears that the Rockies might seek a steadier player overall as they hand the starting job to LeMahieu for the time being. LeMahieu has always brought a better glove, and as Troy Renck points out, if he is hitting it is hard to justify leaving him out of the lineup.
Either that or the Rockies are overcompensating for their previous mistakes. Now would seem an appropriate time to remind everybody that Chris Nelson and Reid Brignac, both since designated for assignment, were on this roster ahead of LeMahieu to start the season. In less than a week he went from a tough luck guy in AAA to the team’s starting second baseman, while Rutledge turns into the tough luck guy as he joins Tyler Colvin on the Sky Sox as the guys waiting for their turn.