The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Albuquerque Isotopes Pitching


Feb 25, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray (55) fields a ground ball as teammates look on during a work out at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Fans want better pitching in Colorado. How do you get it? Trade for it? Probably not as it’ll cost too much. Sign it? Wasn’t much out there that didn’t cost a fortune. That leaves finding it in the minors. Dick Monfort recently talked about how good the system is and how much pitching is in the Colorado Minors. So who can the Rockies look to? Jon Gray had been bad in his first three starts but was much improved in his most recent one, as was Chad Bettis.

The Good.

Bettis had not had a decision in his first four games and game five, last Sunday, would be no different, even with Bettis throwing a solid six inning. Bettis pitched 6 strong allowing 1 ER (1 run scored unearned as well) scattering 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out five in the Topes 5-4 win on . He has lowered his ERA to 3.86. This is someone Dick Monfort specifically named when we talked to him last week. Bettis could be the next up in Colorado, bypassing Gray if he continues to pitch as solid as he has.

Ryan Arrowood is a player Rockies fans need to watch. This 26-year-old righty was called up to triple A earlier this season and has been rolling since his call up. In 5 games, he has thrown ten and a third innings. He has allowed 4 runs on 8 hits while striking out seven. He has pretty good control only walking four. His issue seems to be the oops pitch. He had a blown save, Sunday, due to a home run. This was the second one that had gotten away from him. The team rallied and he ended up vulturing the win from Bettis. Arrowood would be a solid addition to the Rockies bullpen if he continues to keep the long ball under control.

The Bad. (Or at least very, very confusing):

My editor here at Roxpile, Bobby DeMuro, keeps asking me about Tommy Kahnle and I keep saying! ‘Bobby!’ I say, ‘Tommy Kahnle is not very good!’ Going into Sunday, Kahnle had an ERA over 5. An ERA that was nearly 2 full points over his Minor League ERA and a point over his Major League ERA. He had been 0-2 on the season with a blown save, having allowed seven runs. Sunday he came out and had a perfect ninth, striking out two. The question is, what Tommy Kahnle comes out next time.

John Lannan was the best pitcher in the Rockies system, the first two starts of the season touting a 0.69 ERA in thirteen innings, then came a DL stint. Lannan returned from the DL last week and was used in relief. He got whacked. Six runs, four of which were earned, in the course of one inning. It was a relief appearance after an injury. I was willing to discount that one until on Cinco De Mayo, he started game one of a double-header in Albuquerque. He gave up seven runs all earned, walking three and striking out four. He took the 11-2 loss and saw his ERA rise to 6.11.

The 0.69 John Lannan is suddenly a thing easily forgotten after a couple margaritas. He’s no longer a viable option for Colorado.

Wednesday will be a big day for Chris Rusin. He started very rough, giving up 6 runs in his first five inning start. Since then he has steadily improved with a 4 run, five inning start at Reno, a 2 run, 6 inning performance and most reccently a nice 3 run appearance against the Salt Lake Bees on April 30th where he scattered eight hits and a three walks while striking out six! Ironically, he took losses in his last two games, which were his best starts, but not the first two.

Rusin is sitting on a 6.23 ERA but another six innings of two run baseball could take a huge hit out of that. The continual improvement is great to see and puts all eyes on him to continue to do so, making him a viable option for the Rockies.

Jon Gray, Jon Gray, Jon Gray… What is there to say about Jon Gray. Top prospect preseason, first year in AAA and everyone watching. Things didn’t go so well. A bad outing piggy backing on Jorge De La Rosa’s opening day start followed by a 4-run, 5 inning outing where he allowed all four runs in the first and looked like a Cy Young candidate the rest of the way. He then goes to Reno, has another bad first inning and allows 5 in 5 innings, again with most of the damage in the first inning.

Then it gets perplexing with Gray. He goes head to head with Mets Uber-Prospect, Noah Syndergaard, Syndergaard rolls, Gray gives up 7 runs in three and two-thirds. People all over Denver burn his jersey and declare his career over. Calm down. He isn’t dead yet.

Gray comes home on May 2nd and has a nice 2 run, 5 hit, 5 inning performance to end an eight game losing streak for the Topes. Gray is an excellent prospect but isn’t Rockies-Ready just yet. Another couple slick starts and Gray up this season becomes a conversation again. I thought he’d be up in September to begin the season and still believe that. Question is, will he be coming up because the Rockies are out of it and just letting him see Big League hitters or is he up to be part of the five man rotation trying to win games down the stretch.

Jairo Diaz was acquired to be a future closer or setup man for the Rockies. He has shown that in flashes this season at Albuquerque. He has also been awful at times.

In ten games, Diaz has pitched ten and two-thirds innings allowing six runs, eleven hits, six walks and seven strikeouts. Diaz blew the save on opening day, he followed that up with nearly perfect outings in his next four, allowing just one hit and one walk. He sandwiched a nice one walk appearance on April 22nd with a couple rough outings, giving up two runs on four hits against Tacoma on the 21st and 2 runs in one and two-thirds in Las Vegas on the 28th. He settled down, not allowing a run in his next two appearances. He has struck out six and walked five which is pretty much his season in a capsule. When he is sharp and pitching well, he is as good as anyone, but when he’s wild, it gets ugly in a hurry. He has some improvement before being Colorado bound.

Finally, Rex Brothers. Brothers was sent down to get some things figured out and has absolutely not done so. In eight innings, Brothers has allowed six runs on eleven hits. He’s walked nine and struck out eleven. He has the highest WHIP among the relievers at 2.50 and has not looked like a big league picture.

Finally, let’s go with the unfortunate and unsure instead of the ugly.

Jair Jurrjens got hurt after a very nice first start allowing two runs on six innings. He hasn’t returned and his time-table is unknown by anyone I ask within the organization. I am concerned for Jurrjens at this point and do not see him as part of the 2015 Rockies.

David Hale’s rehab has been slower than planned. So much so that the Rockies activated him from the disabled list and immediately optioned him to Albuquerque. He’s only pitched six innings over two starts and the numbers aren’t pretty but with him on a strict pitch count, no judgement can be made of what he has done. His next start or two will really tell how much of a difference Hale can make this season. Hale does have good pro numbers and if he gets healthy, I’d expect the Rockies to try to move him to the big leagues quickly.

The season is long and we are only a month in but with pitching in Colorado the way it has been, many will look to AAA and the players featured above are going to fill some slots in the big league this season. It is a little unnerving that there are more question marks than positives but there is hope for Colorado here in Albuquerque.