The Colorado Rockies, even with their offense wavering of late, will still live and die by the following qualifier:
“If they get good starting pitching…”
Francis. Image: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
In that spirit many people have been eyeing the potential upgrades the Rockies have available for the starting rotation. Tyler Chatwood built on the momentum of his two starts with the Rockies and has been shredding up AAA hitters. Drew Pomeranz followed directions and improved his secondary pitches in his own AAA starts this year. Look no further than his 5-0 record and 9.98 K/9 innings for proof. Finally there is the veteran Roy Oswalt, long-coveted by the Rockies and finally landed by them this season as he works his way up from extended spring training.
The noise about Chatwood, Pomeranz, and Oswalt has put Juan Nicasio and Jeff Francis on notice. Both entered this week with the reality that one bad start might cost them their spot. Last night Nicasio failed to deliver, giving up 5 ER in 6 innings of work. He now sits at a 7.50 ERA and a 5.51 FIP. That very well might earn him a demotion.
Francis faced the same urgency tonight in Chicago. Unlike Nicasio, he stepped up and made the case that he can stay with the Rockies.
Francis allowed only 3 hits and only 1 walk. If not for a heroic shoelace home run from Darwin Barney that line might have been a shutout. He found a way to be efficient and miss bats. It was not a case of the Cubs hitters failing to make Francis pay for his mistakes. It was a case of him not making very many mistakes, hitting and spots and keeping the Cubs off balance.
Either Pomeranz or Chatwood will likely be promoted to replace Nicasio in the near future. Whoever is left will join Oswalt in the waiting game while Francis makes more starts.