Colorado Rockies: The worst-case scenario for the rotation is happening

Apr 23, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez (48) walks off the mound in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez (48) walks off the mound in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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Look back at all of those preseason articles discussing the Colorado Rockies. You’ll find quite often that it’s written how the rotation was going to be the strength for this Rockies squad in 2021, provided injuries and regression didn’t throw it off course.

Well, on the afternoon of May 4, it’s become even clearer that Colorado’s worst case scenario for the first month-plus of the season has crystallized at Coors Field.

In the first inning of the first game of a double-header on Tuesday afternoon at 20th and Blake against the San Francisco Giants, German Marquez walked off the mound after just two outs had been recorded. By the time that Brandon Belt’s grand slam landed in the seats above the Colorado bullpen, Colorado’s Opening Day starter had given up eight runs on the day and watched his season ERA balloon to 6.21.

Combine the struggles from Marquez with Antonio Senzatela’s trip to the injured list after posting a 5.76 ERA (5.20 FIP) in six starts, plus Kyle Freeland still working his way back from a spring training shoulder injury and you’ll see that the Rockies rotation isn’t just hurting, but it’s struggling mightily.

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Yes, on the other end of the spectrum, Jon Gray is having a solid season and will likely become a hot commodity at the trade deadline and Chi Chi Gonzalez is doing what he needs to do as a fifth starter. Ironically, they both entered the season as question marks in the rotation while Marquez, Senzatela, and Freeland were supposed to form the three lead dogs of the rotation pack. It may be the most unexpected development of a season where the Rockies are playing into what many expected from them coming out of spring training, that of National League West also-ran.

Of course, San Francisco’s 10 first-inning runs on Tuesday weren’t the first time those in orange and black have had their way with Rockies pitching in recent months (that 23-5 game last September will continue to be discussed any time “offensive outburst” and “Coors Field” are brought up in the same sentence). But when you have to go back to referencing Bob Gibson for the last time the Giants scored that many in the opening frame (yes, it was June 29, 1967, in St. Louis, and Gibson gave up nine of the runs), you know something monumental has happened.

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Maybe 27th man/fill-in starter Ryan Castellani can work some magic in the second game of this double-header. Hopefully, Marquez can find his mechanics and rhythm again. Fingers are crossed that Senzatela can regain his 2020 form when he comes back from the injured list. Yes, that’s a lot of “maybes” and “hope fors.” However, in the season where the Rockies needed one big thing (rotation) to go right to have a chance to surprise, it has, so far, been a collective disappointment.

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