Chi Chi, Chacin, and the Gray Wolf
Alright, alright, Jhoulys Chacin might be a cheat. He only started one game for the Rockies this year and hasn’t been a regular starter since 2019, but he was on the list I found on MLB.com, so he makes the list here. That said, the Rockies resigning Chacin was a smart move. Among the qualified pitchers on the list, Chacin ranked ninth overall.
Potentially losing Jon Gray was a mistake by the Rockies, and the analytics shows it. Out of all 58 starting pitchers on the market, Gray ranks seventh. He does not rank high on any of the individual analytics I looked at, topping out at 17th in GB%, but his combination of skills makes him an ideal member of the rotation for a park as mighty as Coors. If a bridge can be made, the Rockies would be smart to resign him.
Now losing Chi Chi Gonzalez, that seems of benefit for the club. Gonzalez has some things going for him analytically. He has a decent spin rate, for example, but unfortunately, his numbers are almost the opposite of what you want to see at Coors. Out of the 58 pitchers available, Gonzalez ranks 52nd. Gonzalez has skills and has had flashes in his time at Coors Field, but the way he pitches just fundamentally cannot work for the Colorado Rockies. I hope he can find a nice sea-level team that can properly utilize his ability.
Gonzalez is yet another example of the front office refusing to even try analytics when signing players. He was good on paper, but just digging a little deeper would have shown he wasn’t built for Coors Field.
Who NOT to sign as a Coors Field pitcher
The 10 worst pitchers that the Colorado Rockies could sign this offseason:
10. Robbie Ray
9. Jake Arrieta
8. Michael Pineda
7. JA Happ
6. Andrew Heaney
5. Ervin Santana
4. Jordan Lyles
3. Chi Chi Gonzalez
2. Mike Foltynewicz
1. Vince Velasquez
You might notice some pretty high-profile names make this unfortunate list of pitchers, including the 2021 AL Cy Young Winner, Robbie Ray. I’m not saying if he wanted to that the Rockies should turn away these pitchers. However, if they signed with the team, they would need to change the way they pitch. Ray is a strikeout specialist, but when the ball is hit, batters hit it pretty hard and in the air. At Coors Field, this would turn a single or out into a double or triple depending on where in the outfield it lands.
The other thing that you might notice is that not one, but two former Colorado Rockies appear on this list, Gonzalez and Jordan Lyles. Lyles has yet to prove himself as a capable big league pitcher. Gonzalez, however, could show to be more effective elsewhere as his higher spin rate pitches could create the effective movement that he lacked at elevation. Aside from club loyalty, though, there is no real reason to consider resigning either of them.
Now as for the worst pitcher the Colorado Rockies could sign, Vince Velasquez, I do not believe Rockies fans have to worry about. Unless the team sees him as a project, both his analytics and base level stats show a Rockies team that is trying to “compete” in 2022 should not sign him.
As far as the worst pitcher for the team with a positive WAR, it would be a very Colorado Rockies move to sign Ervin Santana. A pitcher in the twilight of his career (he is 38!) with a couple of All-Star appearances under his belt. Santana is a skillful player still and could bring worth to a team in 2022, but his high Hard Hit% and low GB% show that he shouldn’t be anywhere near Coors Field in the coming season. That said, I expect the Rockies to give him a 2-year $10 million deal by the time this article gets published.
Let’s move on to the smart potential signings.