The Rockies appeared to have a pretty solid starting five coming into spring training, but before the first pitch could be thrown, injuries threw their usual wrench into things. Jhoulys Chacin has yet to play in an actual major league game this season, spring training or otherwise. Tyler Chatwood began the season on the DL, though he’s since returned. And Brett Anderson, the potentially-brilliant-but-also-made-of-balsa-wood pitcher we got from the A’s in the offseason, has hit the DL already. For breaking his finger while swinging the bat. I am not a designated hitter fan, but when I watched Anderson do that, I became one for a brief moment.
So that leaves us with a bit of a rotating rotation, and guys like Franklin Morales keep getting caught in the crossfire. Morales made the rotation out of spring training, was demoted to the bullpen for about three seconds after he pretty much sucked, and then was immediately promoted back into the rotation upon Anderson’s injury. Jordan Lyles, spot starting for Chatwood, wrested the 5th spot away from Morales with some brilliant pitching (and let’s not kid ourselves, his hitting was pretty killer as well). And Jorge De La Rosa, forever the #2, was asked to take on the ace role in the wake of Chacin’s injury. DLR is a solid starter, but in a contract year with the weight of ace expectations on his shoulder, he has proven that he cannot handle the responsibility of leading a staff.
With nearly a month’s worth of baseball under our belts, by all appearances, this random shuffling of starters hasn’t hurt us. The offense has done its job, with three hitters currently in MLB’s top 10 for average (Charlie Blackmon, Troy Tulowitzki, and Justin Morneau). Most of the games we’ve lost have seemed to be the bullpen’s fault. But on closer examination, the pen is currently working with a 3.41 ERA. The starters: 4.61. This is not so much due to a constant flow of mediocre starts as it is the result of great ones mixed in with horrendous ones. This leads us to the question: Who should be in the rotation? And the more relevant question, which shouldn’t have a different answer but does: Who will be in the rotation?
Current reports project that Chacin could return by the end of the month. That would put 4 of the 5 guys who made the rotation out of spring training in place: Chacin, DLR, Juan Nicasio, and Morales. Lyles stays on as the spot-starter-turned-actual-#-5-pitcher, and if his performance continues as it has, then he will remain in the rotation as Morales makes way for Anderson, returning somewhere around the end of May. This all depends, of course, on how Anderson’s rehab goes. As has been said, the man is made of balsa wood, so there are no guarantees with that. (The best source for updates on this, by the way, is Anderson himself. You can follow him on Twitter for surgery jokes and Instagram for gnarly-looking X-rays.)
Ideally, here’s our June 1st rotation: Chacin, Anderson, DLR, Nicasio, Lyles. I fear it will look more like Chacin, DLR, Nicasio, Morales, Lyles, but we can cross our fingers and hope for the best. I really think Chacin has what it takes to lead this staff and be its ace. He’s no Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander, but you know, these are the Rockies, and their legacy of good pitching is highlighted by names like Ubaldo Jimenez and Pedro Astacio, so I just feel like we should take our Jhoulys and be thankful. Anderson has yet to settle into being a great #2 — his mediocre stats so far are no wins, 2 losses that were not entirely his fault, a 3.60 ERA, and a 1:1 K/BB ratio — but I think he has it in him. At the very least, he stands to be an innings-eater if he can just get steel rods put in all his limbs to protect him from injury. And Nicasio, not stunning but certainly showing improvement in four starts this season, is not a bad choice to head up the back end. I don’t know if we can expect Lyles to continue pitching as well as he has, but I think he’s quite promising. Morales just doesn’t have the pitches he needs to start regularly. He’s a much better option out of the pen, and that gives us three lefties there.
Here’s to quick healing for Chacin and Anderson, no regression for Lyles, and DLR figuring out his drama. If those things happen, it might not be that bad of a season at 20th and Blake.
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Tags: Colorado Rockies