How many times have we seen Franklin Morales have the kind of outing he had yesterday, when he gave up three homers and five runs while failing to get out of the fifth inning? Too many, which is saying something given that he started just his 25th game as a Colorado Rockies player yesterday.
In fact, it seems as if the Rockies, the team who signed Morales as an amateur free agent back in 2002, have a strange infatuation in a guy who had started just 25 games in his first seven years (with 170 relief appearances) for good reason. This is indeed Franklin Morales’ second stint for the Rockies, as the pitcher spent most of 2011 and all of 2012 and 2013 as a Boston Red Sox reliever.
In his time with the Red Sox, I think that Morales proved that he could be a solid reliever, but probably no more than that. He doesn’t have the kind of exciting career numbers that would bode well to being in the rotation over the course of a season. He has a 4.60 career ERA and has allowed about 1.5 baserunners per inning over the course of his career, and his peripheral stats don’t paint a good picture either.
Morales has always been the rare big-league pitcher who has neither big strikeout numbers nor small walk numbers. He has a career strikeout per nine rate of 7.49 (6.28 this season), and his walk rate of 4.41 per nine innings (3.77) is just as horrifying. And, as we saw last night when he forced just four ground outs to go along with nine flyouts and three homers, Morales has never been the ideal ground-ball pitcher. In fact, his career ground ball rate of 39.2% is in the bottom quarter of all pitchers who have thrown at least 300 innings since his debut season of 2007.
Basically, Franklin Morales is not only not the ideal Coors pitcher, but he’s a pitcher who walks a lot of hitters, gives up a lot of homers (especially this year; he’s already given up 11 homers!), doesn’t get ground outs, and has proven his mediocrity- at best- throughout his career.
So there’s Franklin Morales’s resume. Please remind me why this guy is not only on the 25-man roster but in the starting rotation? Whatever the reason is, it’s not good enough. I expect we’ll see Morales out of the rotation soon, so the question becomes: who replaces him in the rotation? With Tyler Chatwood and Brett Anderson still relatively far from a return, the Rockies might be planning on hanging with Morales until one of their starters returns from injury, but I think they should make a move sooner, because Morales just simply isn’t giving the Rockies quality innings.
You know I love Yohan Flande, but he isn’t the Rockies’ only option. Former top prospect Tyler Matzek is pitching well in Colorado Springs, but he’s walking too many to warrant the call-up. In the end, I vote for Christian Bergman, another guy who hasn’t yet make his MLB debut. Bergman, now 26 years old, has slowly moved his way up the system, and he’s been arguably the best starter for the Sky Sox this year. He doesn’t have great stuff, but he’s always had good control and has kept the ball in the park even in high altitude and has forced some ground balls.
In the end, I’d like to see Bergman, but I don’t really care. All I’m sure of is that we have enough of a sample size to know that, despite showing rare signs of greatness, Franklin Morales is neither a high-upside pitcher nor a guy who can consistently pitch deep into games. The bottom line is that Morales needs to be pitching in relief or in Colorado Springs, and soon. Whether it’s Bergman, Matzek, Flande, or a more exciting promotion of Eddie Butler or Jon Gray, we need to see some fresh blood at the back of the rotation, at least until Anderson and/or Chatwood return.