The Rockies’ starting rotation is a pretty major question mark during spring training this year. We all assumed Jhoulys Chacin would be our number-one guy, but he’s struggling with shoulder inflammation and has yet to pitch at all in Arizona. Jorge De La Rosa now looks to be the opening day starter, but who falls in line behind him is a little less clear. Brett Anderson, so far holding together physically, is the likely #2. Tyler Chatwood will probably slot in at #3. I think Juan Nicasio has made an extremely convincing case for himself at #4. And #5 could be just about anybody at this point, except probably not Jon Gray or Eddie Butler.
Up until yesterday, Franklin Morales was looking like a very viable candidate. As Paul Swydan writes over at Fangraphs, Morales was probably treated like a bit of a scapegoat by the Rockies when things came apart in 2008. They didn’t really demonstrate that they had faith he could find himself again. To be fair, the glimpses of his brilliance started to become fewer and further between as time went on. And by the time he was traded to the Red Sox in 2011, no fan wanted to see him making that trek from the bullpen to the mound. It was invariably the sign that a loss was nigh. It was kind of like how we felt whenever Wilton Lopez made that same journey in 2013.
So given all that, you’ll forgive me for cringing more than a little bit when I heard Morales was back. Even if he still has the same kind of potential he initially appeared to have, his confidence has to be shaken. The Rockies were the ones who sent him packing in the first place, after all. I’m not sure what kind of pep talk Dan O’Dowd gave Frank Mo, but it better have been good if we are going to hope that he will do good things for us this season.
Alas, the old, rather than the really old, Frankie Mo was the one who showed up yesterday in Scottsdale. His inability to locate haunted him once again, although this time walks weren’t the issue. This time he lobbed a whole bunch of fastballs right down the middle, and the Padres made solid contact with all of them. The scariest part of Troy Renck’s recap is when Morales is quoted as saying “I thought it was a good pitch,” of a not at all good pitch. If he doesn’t even know when he’s losing his command, that’s much worse news. And that’s as good a reason as any not to give him the fifth spot.