Here’s the odd thing about Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Phillies: on this night it was not the lack of Troy Tulowitzki that cost the team. At one point the team held a 7-2 lead and it looked like starting pitcher Juan Nicasio would have a golden opportunity to deliver a quality start for the Rockies. From there things quickly unraveled as Nicasio and the bullpen simply could not keep the Philadelphia bats at bay. What could have been a much-needed comfortable victory instead turned into a gut-wrenching 8-7 loss.
On the night Nicasio surrendered 5 earned runs. With Roy Oswalt almost done with his tuneup in AA Tulsa and Tyler Chatwood returning to the rotation Saturday night, one must continue to wonder about the future of Nicasio and Jeff Francis in the rotation. As such each pitches for his job when he takes the mound. With that being the case the following analysis resurfaced last night in regard to Nicasio’s future with the team (via the Denver Post’s Troy Renck):
Honestly I’d patch bullpen w Nicasio. Start Oswalt in his place. Give Francis a couple of games the go to Pomeranz if he gets hot again
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) June 15, 2013
When Nicasio is right his sinking fastball is a serious weapon. Even before his struggles to pitch past the 5th inning this season it was reasonable to wonder is his arsenal is better for the bullpen. His 94-95 MPH fastball would probably ratchet up a couple ticks to 96-97 and he could focus on a hard slider as his other out pitch. Tell me that doesn’t have a good chance to translate to the back end of the bullpen? If Oswalt is able to make a meaningful contribution this season we might get a preview of what Nicasio looks like in the bullpen very soon.
As for this loss, for one night we cannot blame Tulowitzki’s absence for the team’s struggles. Sure, when Michael Cuddyer strode to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning in what would have been Tulo’s spot in the order, one could not help but bemoan the fact that the team’s best player was not available. But if the pitching staff does not pull it together and quit blowing leads, the Rockies’ season will derail for reasons different than the absence of their star player.