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I actually think that this year’s version of 2013 Tyler Chatwood might be a pitcher who hasn’t yet played a big role for the Colorado Rockies. Whether it’s him again or somebody else, the importance of that guy, aka the third solid starting pitcher to go with Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin to lengthen the starting rotation, is without question.
Today Buster Olney wrote an article for ESPN Insider in which he identified the “30 Linchpin Players 0f 2014” (insider subscription required). He pegged Chatwood for Colorado, noting the importance of pitching for the Rockies each and every season.
In 2014 the importance of the starting rotation will be put in the context of a key reason that 2013 crumbled. Even with three good pitchers at the top of the rotation, the fourth and fifth spots cost the Rockies a lot of wins and a lot of wear on their bullpen. To contend is one thing, but the Rockies need a deeper rotation just to survive the whole season.
"But I believe that Brett Anderson is more important. They are paying him $8 million, and he sets up as potential replacement for Jorge De La Rosa if he isn’t re-signed as a free agent.”"
Pitchers who also ought to be mentioned are Franklin Morales, Juan Nicasio, Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler, and even Christian Friedrich. Those guys are at various stages of their career, but all have fairly high ceilings and the possibility to be a guy who takes the Rockies by surprise and clicks.
It’s the combination of talent and track record, though, that make Chatwood and Anderson the most likely guys to take on the responsibility of holding up the middle of the rotation.
This year’s ZiPS projections aren’t kind to the Rockies if they need to count on these guys, however. According to ZiPS, Chatwood will pitch 142 innings in 2014. That’s more than last season, but it wouldn’t be enough. Dinged by the computer for his injury history, Anderson is projected to pitch only 64.3 innings. That obviously would be unacceptable for all parties.
The Rockies need depth, and they need to be able to survive if they are without Chatwood and/or Anderson for stretches of the season due to injury. But ultimately, one of those guys needs to be the “linchpin” or it’s going to be another ugly season for the starting rotation.