As Spring Training rolls on and players fight for their spot on the 25-man roster, Rox Pile is committed to providing you with up-to-date looks at the state of each position from Colorado Rockies camp. My cronies have looked at shortstops, outfielders, and first basemen.
Today, I’m gonna look into the pitching race.
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The pitching competition is getting hot and heavy like an extra large Sicilian pizza fresh out the oven. There is something for everyone to watch, whether it is seeing if the established players are getting into form or getting a first look at some of the intriguing youngsters who get to play with the big boys for a while.
34 pitchers have made appearances through Sunday. As much as I would love to, I don’t want to punish you all by breaking down every single pitcher, so I am going to limit it to a few notable races.
Opening Day Starter
This looks to be a two-horse race between Jorge De La Rosa and Chad Bettis. Both have been impressive thus far. More specifically, they were both perfect in their debuts. I was fortunate enough to watch DLR’s spring debut in person on Thursday. He went three innings, didn’t allow a runner, and sat down 4 guys on strikes. De La Rosa did a great job of mixing it up on Reds hitters. It seemed like they were lunging at every off-speed pitch. Whatever the boys down in the pen told him during pre-game, it must have worked.
I didn’t get a chance to see Bettis’ outing in person on Friday, but the stat line speaks for itself. Bettis also went three innings without a runner, and got 3 Ks to George of the Rose’s 4. This was part of an impressive run by a massif of Rockies as Bettis, Bergman, Motte, Miguel Castro, and Oberg retired 22 Tribesmen in a row.
If these two starters stay in form (and keep me from calling them “Bad Chettis” and “George of the Rose” like I do when I’m angry), I don’t care who starts April 4th at Chase Field. I’ll be ecstatic to have them both at the top of the rotation.
Rest of the Rotation
The bottom half of the rotation is significantly less clear than the top half. The list of contenders for the rotation started long. Going into camp, realistic possibilities for the 3-5 spots in the rotation were Gray, Chatwood, Lyles, Matzek, Rusin, Butler, Bergman, and Hale. A few of these guys looked sharp, but there has certainly been room for concern. Rusin and Hale are yet to throw in a game due to injury. Matzek was scratched from starting in a B game on the side field due to performance anxiety after getting shelled in his first outing of the spring.
That leaves Gray, Chatwood, Lyles, Butler, and Bergman in contention for the final three spots. Gray has struggled in his three outings, giving up 4 runs (including two long balls) in 7 2/3 innings of work. His struggles have become so apparent that his curveball developed over the offseason is already being shelved.
Lyles has struggled even worse. He wasn’t particularly successful in his first few starts, but he really fell off in his outing on Sunday. He gave up 5 hits and only recorded 7 outs on the day. Chatwood has looked iffy over his four innings of work, giving up 3 hits and 3 walks, and allowing 2 runs. However given how the rest of these frontrunners have done, Chatwood looks more than exceptional.
Bergman and Butler certainly still have a shot, but seem more like outsiders at this point in the race. Bergman has given up just one hit in his allotted 4 innings, leaving no reason to doubt his ability. However, 2015’s version of Bergman seemed better suited in a long relief role, showing much more success out of the pen. It may be in the club’s best interest to leave him in that role. Butler, on the other hand, has not been quite as sharp. He has given up 2 runs over 5 innings which seems fine, but I am still concerned with the 6 hits and a walk allowed. Traffic leads to runs, and you can’t expect someone to allow so many runners with sustained success.
It’s safe to say that our three offseason acquisitions – McGee, Motte, and Qualls – have spots secured on the 25 man roster. Weiss also indicated – per Nick Groke – that Oberg and Miller are both set up for spots in the pen. That leaves two spots up for grabs. Considering Boone Logan’s southpawness and price tag, I expect he claims one despite not pitching yet due to elbow soreness. My prediction is that the last spot goes to the aforementioned Bergman, but there are a few contenders. The relievers Castro have combined for 3 2/3 scoreless. I want to keep an eye on Miguel, one of the key pieces of the Tulo trade. He brings gas and has loads of potential. If he builds on Sunday’s outing, he could move into contention for a spot.
And then there’s Yohan Flande. #FLANDAY is my favorite day of the week. Note: He crushed it on Thursday.
It is safe to assume that I am extrapolating way too much on these pitchers. Good pitchers can look bad and bad pitchers can look good in small sample sizes. But when races are wide open, every inning counts.
The Colorado Rockies have made their first roster cuts today, shrinking the major league roster by nine. They’ve sent right-handed pitchers Matt Carasiti and Jeff Hoffman, left-handed pitchers Kyle Freeland and Harrison Musgrave, catchers Dom Nunez and Will Swanner, infielder Ryan McMahon, and outfielders David Dahl and Rosell Herrera. They have been reassigned to the Rockies’ minor league camp.