Rockies rotation goes from bleak to weak
There’s no hiding the fact that Coors Field isn’t a pitcher-friendly park.
While that may mean good things for hitters in the Colorado Rockies’ lineup, it spells disaster for their pitching staff. In years past, Colorado has tried to combat their home field by adding big names, but lately, it seems like the team has given up on trying to land talented free agents. During the Rockies World Series run in 2007, Colorado had the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook as their top of the rotation starters. Now, just six years later, it seems like there really isn’t a clear Ace of this staff or even a legitimate No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
In fact, not much has changed when comparing last year’s starting rotation to this season’s. The only real difference is that last year there were a few names — like Jamie Moyer and Jeremy Guthrie — that fans could get excited about. In 2013, the only guy fans can have high hopes for is Jorge De La Rosa, who hasn’t pitched in 16 months.
• Long shot in the dark: The chances De La Rosa bounces back from Tommy John surgery are slim. The fact is most pitchers never successfully return from the hurler’s curse. Colorado fans will have their fingers crossed that De La Rosa can somehow defy the odds, but even if he does, they won’t want to see the short-lived 2013 version of the 31-year-old. Last season in just three starts, De La Rosa posted an embarrassing 9.28 ERA and an 0-2 record with just six strikeouts. De La Rosa’s history before that isn’t anything to brag about, either. The lefty has only had one season with a sub-4.00 ERA, which came in 2011 when he only started 10 games. To call him this year’s Ace should be more of a concern than a hope of an incredible MLB comeback story.
• Choose Chacin: When looking at Colorado’s rotation, the biggest head scratcher is that Jhoulys Chacin isn’t the team’s No. 1 starter. Although last year was Chacin’s worst of his short three-year MLB career, he was a solid asset for the Rocks in 2009 and 2010 when he kept his ERA under 4.00. Given, he battled injuries last year, but Chacin looks like the best starting pitcher the Rockies have. So why not make him your ace? Maybe it’s because he’s not a strikeout guy. However, when healthy, he chews up innings. Another plus is that Chacin is just 25. Perhaps Colorado has bigger plans for him or they’re just very committed to De La Rosa.
• No longer a prospect: Clearly, Colorado is desperate for starting pitching. That means the time for 24-year-old Drew Pomeranz is now. Pomeranz was the key addition for the Rockies in their trade with the Cleveland Indians a couple of years ago that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Tribe. Colorado felt Pomeranz was ready last year, brining him up to make 22 starts at the MLB level. In those starts, Pomeranz wasn’t horrible, but I’m guessing Colorado had higher hopes for him. It’s possible the Rockies brought him up to early as Pomeranz posted a 4.93 ERA with a 2-9 record. That will have to be hindsight now, though, as Pomeranz is slated to be Colorado’s No. 3 starter for the 2013 campaign. It’s not farfetched to think Pomeranz could be an elite MLB pitcher. It’s just extremely hard to start down that path at Coors field.
• Hopes of a dominant dominican: Like Pomeranz and out of necessity, the Rockies called up youngster Juan Nicasio last season to make a handful of starts when their season was chalked up as a loss. He made 11 starts for Colorado and like most of his starting pitcher colleagues, he was beat up at home. He will enter the 2013 season as the team’s No. 4 starter and shows signs of becoming a good strikeout pitcher. Last year was Nicasio’s second with the Rockies and somehow he got worse. If he can come out of the gates like he did in 2011 when he posted a 4.14 ERA with a 4-4 record, he will make a decent No. 4 starter for Colorado and could work his way up to the No. 3 slot.
• Comeback kid: Veteran Jeff Francis is the oldest player in Colorado’s rotation for the 2013 season. He’s very familiar with the team after spending just the 2011 campaign not wearing a Rockies uniform. However, Colorado is probably the only place Francis can pitch because he’s simply just not that good. Francis has never had a season with an ERA lower than 4.00. He’s definitely not overpowering, either, with dismal strikeout numbers. There’s just not a whole lot of positives that surround Francis, except he’s a veteran arm in a rotation full of younger pitchers. Maybe Francis can pull off an Aaron Cook sort of comeback, but it will be very hard for the 32-year-old because he will be the first one out if the Rockies choose to try someone else, which is extremely likely.