Sep 5, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher David Hale (57) throws in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
As the season gets underway, RoxPile.com is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: David Hale.
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David Hale came to the Colorado Rockies in a winter trade with the Atlanta Braves, and the Princeton University product was expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation or bullpen immediately during Spring Training.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan, and he strained an oblique during Spring Training, knocking him out of the running for a big league roster spot and relegating him to the disabled list. Now, after the injury has healed and Hale has gone on a rehab assignment, he’s at AAA Albuquerque building up his arm and waiting for a big league opportunity.
What The Numbers Say
FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.
FanGraphs projections are bullish on Hale having a big part in the Rockies’ season later this summer, expecting him to start 14 games for the big league club. If you had asked me about that a month ago, I’d have been skeptical of their projection, but considering the Rockies’ rotation woes, well… it looks more realistic now.
Projections don’t anticipate Hale will throw that well, though, with a walk rate higher than his career average, a strikeout rate lower, and an ERA just a few ticks under 5.00. Considering the Rockies’ rotation as it stands now, though, these unfortunately may not be terrible things…
Call to the Pen
Hale put up decent numbers for parts of two seasons in Atlanta, and while he did that primarily out of the bullpen, the Braves did extend him to throw multiple innings per outing across his career, implying he has the stuff to go through a lineup more than once.
Knowing that, wouldn’t a best-case scenario with Hale involve him helping to rescue the rotation this summer? He’s no Yohan Flande (ok… kidding…) but the Rockies need rotation help because I, like all of you, can’t see Kyle Kendrick lasting all summer the way things are going now.
So I suppose Hale’s best-case scenario is as a savior of the pitching staff. He threw well in Atlanta the last two seasons, and has a career 3.92 FIP and 3.02 ERA in nearly 100 innings. It’s a small sample size for a guy just beginning his big league career, but those numbers are more promising than some of the stat lines the Rockies’ staff has seen this year.
Hale walked a lot of guys and didn’t strike out very many last season in Atlanta. The Rockies already have quite a few guys who walk a lot of hitters and don’t miss bats, and we see how that’s going in the rotation. What’s one more, right?
Hale has also struggled in his first few starts – rehab and otherwise – in the minor leagues this season, though obviously he’s shaking off the rust and acclimating himself to a new organization and new home cities, so let’s cut him a little slack on that.
Nevertheless, he still needs to prove himself to even get a big league opportunity; thus far, there’s no conceivable reason to promote him until he can extend in Albuquerque and prove he’s a solid pitcher. And at this point, Chad Bettis (and maybe John Lannan) are probably ahead of him, anyways.
I don’t think Hale will have too much of an impact in the big leagues this year. I certainly believe we will see him in Denver, but I think Chad Bettis will have a larger impact on the Rockies at the big league level than Hale will this season. That’s not to say Hale won’t be a fixture in Denver one day, but it is to say he’s not going to start the 14 games FanGraphs projections expect him to start for the Rockies this summer.
Expect Hale to spend the vast majority of the year in AAA Albuquerque, adjusting to the altitude and the Pacific Coast League.
Give us your predictions!