The lights will be as bright as they can possibly get at Coors Field on Friday night.
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Starting pitcher Eddie Butler, the second-best prospect in the Colorado Rockies’ system, will make his big-league debut, taking the spot in the rotation previously occupied by Franklin Morales. It will be a Friday. People will be paying attention. He will face the Dodgers. Yasiel Puig will come up to bat during the first half-inning of Butler’s professional career.
For my money, Butler and Gray are tied for the most hype for a prospect’s debut since the years of buzz that led up to Nolan Arenado‘s arrival. To pile a divisional match-up against the Dodgers, for a Rockies team that is seriously struggling, is to put even more pressure on Butler.
From everything we have heard, the 23-year-old Butler will be up to the challenge. Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports the following about the move:
"Coveted Rockies pitching prospect Eddie Butler will make his big-league debut Friday, replacing Franklin Morales, who moved to the bullpen Tuesday, a team source said……Butler will be the first Rockies pitcher called up directly from Double-A since Chad Bettis in 2013. Bettis went 0-3 in eight starts after joing the Rockies in August before he joined the bullpen.Juan Nicasio, too, jumped from Double-A Tulsa to the Rockies in late May of 2011. He went 4-4 in 13 starts that season."
As for Morales, this benefits him as well. While he has insisted all along that he wants to start, he simply is not suited to that role. Through 11 starts he has a 6.07 ERA and a 5.77 FIP. His K/9 are down (6.2). He constantly fights his command and self-destructs. He can be effective in short bursts out of the bullpen, however. This move puts Morales in a position to actually contribute something other than losses and sadness to the collective effort.
And so the first move has been made to shake up the pitching staff. Butler was always considered the most big-league ready, so the Rockies had no concerns about some bumps in the road in Double-A in 2014.
That said, his season with bumps in the road was still pretty darn good: through 11 starts Butler was 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA. His K/9 are way down (5.2), but that doesn’t mean he won’t come up and miss bats with the filthy stuff we have looked forward to seeing for a while now.
As things shake out now, Butler will start opposite Hyun-Jin Ryu for the Dodgers. Did I mention that the Rockies are thrusting Butler into the bright lights on Friday?