We all know that the Colorado Rockies’ rotation is bad. It looked poor before the season started, but now it looks really really bad. Part of that has to do with injuries. Four pitchers who have started for the Rockies are on the disabled list.
While one, Eddie Butler, came up in the middle of the year, the other three, Brett Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, and Jordan Lyles were supposed to be major parts of the rotation from the beginning of the season. Losing four starters is big, and as a result 10 pitchers have started at least a game, including two, Tyler Matzek and Christian Bergman, who weren’t supposed to start at all this year and basically became staff aces immediately.
It’s not only injuries, though. It’s poor performance which really stings, and it’s poor performance which led to this question. By just following recent starts, you would expect Juan Nicasio to be starting on Saturday for the Rockies. And if that were the case, there would be no reason to write this post. But Nicasio is not going to start, and that’s not due to injury; he was optioned to the minors yesterday due entirely to poor pitching. Nicasio has said that he’s lost right now, and the numbers support that: he has a 5.92 ERA, he’s giving up 1.85 homers per nine innings (second worst in baseball, and he’s given up 15 homers), and his strikeout rate is down (he has just 46 strikeouts). He’s given up 25 earned runs in his last 15.2 innings, which has raised his ERA by more than two runs.
So it doesn’t seem likely that Nicasio will get the ball on Saturday. Who will? I really have no idea. It’s not going to be Nicasio’s roster replacement, as the Rockies called up outfielder/first baseman Kyle Parker. It’s not likely to be anyone from AAA, because the Rockies have already taken Bergman and Matzek from the Sky Sox, and those were the only two real possibilities. The next best from AAA are Johan Flande (4.82 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 28 years old, zero career MLB starts) and Brett Tomko (3.86, 1.41, 41 years old). No thanks.
It’s also unlikely that one of the injured guys will be ready to return. Anderson, who’s on the 60 day DL, is eligible to come off but, last we heard, is far from a return. Chatwood wouldn’t be able to pitch even if he were ready. Lyles and Butler are both likely out a while longer. Looking at the current roster, the only guy who makes sense is Franklin Morales, if only because he has started 11 too many games this year already. But nobody wants to see Morales because he’s a train wreck with no upside and an ERA almost as bad as Nicasio’s.
That leaves us looking at the Tulsa Drillers’ roster for help. And that leads us to Jon Gray, who is really the only other option. Gray’s the Rockies’ top prospect, and it’s clear that he’s not ready. Gray is 22 years old and has pitched just 106.1 innings of professional ball (22 starts). With that said, Gray is still probably the best option.
He’s pitching well, and could probably come in and be more effective than Morales. That’s probably the debate the Rockies’ brass is having internally right now: Morales vs. Gray. Do you go with the worse pitcher, Morales, or do you go with the top prospect who needs more time in the minors?
The more popular choice would be Gray, but I’d lean towards (gulp) Morales. This team isn’t ready to contend, and I think it’s more important to keep Gray in the minors for at least another few months than it is to enhance the chance of a win on Saturday. I never thought I’d say this, but I think Franklin Morales should start on Saturday for the Colorado Rockies. Unless, of course, the Rockies make a quick trade for someone like David Price. That would be nice, too.