Jun 16, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Matzek (46) throws in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Starting Pitching: The Dreaded Rotation
Here we go. After grading out the pieces of the lineup and defense with A’s and B’s all around, it’s time to get to the most important part of any baseball team – the starting rotation – and here, the Rockies won’t leave with quite as solid of a grade.
Is Tyler Matzek the man we saw in his first dozen starts in 2014, or the man who was lights out in his final six? If he can return to what he was in September, watch out; we’ve got a breakout pitcher on our hands. But something tells me he’ll regress to the mean (whatever that will be for him) and fail to assert himself as a frontline starter this year.
Is Jordan Lyles due for a breakout? After his continued development last year (despite an unlucky non-throwing hand injury) and a great spring, Lyles could be poised to break out. Or maybe it all blows up. Coors Field hasn’t ever been kind to pitchers, and while Lyles might be a sexy pick for a breakout season, himself, it’s no sure thing for the club.
Jorge De La Rosa is the old standard and the epitome of a Rockies pitcher. He embraces the altitude, pitches well at home, and has given the Rockies exactly what they need. But with the injured groin to start the season, will he be the same pitcher in 2015 that he’s been in the recent past? The club needs him to start 30 games and do what he does. If he can, it takes some pressure off the rest of the rotation. If he can’t…
Kyle Kendrick will be just what the team needs him to be – good enough. He won’t toss seven scoreless innings every outing, but he doesn’t have to, as long as he can throw 180+ innings and keep the Rockies in games, he’ll have earned his money and done his job.
Beyond that, the starting options get a little dicey – or, exciting, if you’re an optimist.
Jon Gray could be an amazing arm, but it also might take him some lumps and struggles in the big leagues to become that. The same goes for Eddie Butler. Tyler Chatwood is a ways off from returning after having Tommy John surgery, and Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland are exciting minor leaguers, but both are further off in their development timetables.
While Gray and Butler represent the future for the Rockies, they may not represent quality depth pieces yet, and this year may mark them dipping their toes into the big league waters before coming on in full force in 2016. In their stead, Christian Bergman and John Lannan would theoretically start should anyone else go down with injuries, which, to put it mildly, is not that exciting a combination.
Uncertainty abounds among the Rockies rotation, whether it’s regarding health, depth, or effectiveness. In the most optimistic sense, with Gray and Butler on the way, you could give this group a low B/high C, arguing the group can bend but can’t break in order to keep the potent offense in games.
I’ll be slightly more skeptical and give the rotation a C-, understanding what Coors Field will do to these guys while worrying about how thin the quality veteran rotation depth will be this summer.
Next: The NL West