Who Is Taking The Reigns In The Rockies Rotation?
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Friday, March. 22/2013
By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @ryandana1
So I’m back talking about the Colorado Rockies again. I already did a State of the Union piece on them a while back so make sure to check that out for a full outlook on their 2013 hopes. This article I’m going to go in-depth on their starting rotation, more specifically I’m going to look at who is ready to take control of this staff and be a legitimate top line starter.
The Rockies rotation is far from final. They have about 8 guys vying for the 5 slots in my opinion. Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Juan Nicasio all seemingly have a spot on lock, but the last 2 spots are probably between Drew Pomeranz, Jeff Francis, Chris Volstad, Christian Friedrich, and Tyler Chatwood.
I don’t want to get too far into the unique way one must look at the Rockies pitchers. I already talked a bit about it in my State of the Union article, but basically the Rockies pitching stats are going to be inflated due to playing at Coors Field, a notorious hitter’s ballpark.
The Home/Road splits are always something to look at with Rockies pitchers. Regardless of the fact that they have a home field disadvantage, Rockies Starting Pitchers in 2012 had the worst ERA in the MLB at 5.81. This simply won’t get it done if they have any playoff aspirations.
Jhoulys Chacin Highlights:
Obvious to anyone who followed the Rockies 2012 campaign they were short-staffed in the rotation due to injuries, especially where it really counts, at the top. The top of the rotation is what I want to really get into so I’ll make quick mention of the bottom of the rotation in order to move on.
At this point Jeff Francis is what he is, an aging, soft-tosser who is past his prime, but could still be a decent back of the rotation option. He could be especially useful to a rotation that could use stability, and Francis could provide some as he was the only starter to throw over 100 IP last year for Colorado. Chris Volstad is another veteran option.
He spent 2012 with the Cubs. He was less than stellar. He is a depth option who may get a shot, but don’t expect too much. Pomeranz, Friedrich, and Chatwood are the higher potential, young, options in need of some work to be really effective in the Majors.
I personally like Pomeranz and Francis to get the 4/5 spots, but it depends the direction the Rockies want to go in. (I’ve heard Francis is lined up for the Home Opener right now.) All of these guys could get a chance at some point in 2013 considering the durability problems Rockies Starters have had in the recent past.
Now I can move on to what I really want to talk about. The Rockies have 3 Starting Pitchers who have playoff starter potential if the Rockies were to make it there (big if). You can’t help but root for the probable 3rd starter in Colorado’s rotation Juan Nicasio. His 2011 and 2012 seasons were both derailed by injury. In 2011 it was a line drive to the head and 2012 it was season ending knee surgery that sidelined him.
Nicasio has the tools to be a very good pitcher. His fastball runs mid-high 90s, and I’ve heard his changeup has been developing nicely. He also throws a slider. The development of the changeup could really help his game since before he was essentially a two-pitch starter which is tough when you’re seeing everyone in the opposing lineup multiple times a game.
Something I really like about Nicasio is his control for a player with as little Major League experience as he has. In 129.2 IP in the Majors, Nicasio has surrendered only 40 BBs compared to 112 Ks. Not saying he’s the next Stephen Strasburg, but Nicasio’s career BB/9 ratio is 2.8. Strasburg’s 2012 BB/9 was 2.7. Not bad company to be in. I like Nicasio’s chances in 2013 as his injuries have been fluky, and not arm related. Also, like I already said, his tools are strong and improving.
The pitcher I imagine will hold down the 2nd spot in the Rockies rotation is Jorge de la Rosa. Continuing the theme of pitchers who need to bounce back from injury for the Rockies to be successful is Jorge de la Rosa who is coming back off of Tommy John Surgery. He is coming up on 2 years removed from the injury this May, so he has had ample time to recover. He even got in 3 starts for the club at the end of 2012.
From what I’ve read, he looks good this Spring, throwing in the low 90s with a good curveball and changeup. De la Rosa really came into his own at age 28 in 2009. From 2009-2011 he compiled a 4.18 ERA in 62 Starts. He also had 8.8 K/9. I think De La Rosa has a chance to be a legitimate #1 Starter, but he will need to prove he is still that guy he was pre-surgery.
The pitcher with the most promise, and might also be the most worrisome of all the starters on the Rockies roster is Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin too was bit by the injury bug in 2012. This was possibly due to him being out of shape, which the Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd called him out on. I haven’t heard much about the shape Chacin is in right now, but I assume it’s better than last year as he has been named Opening Day Starter despite sub par Spring Training/World Baseball Classic numbers.
I think Jhoulys Chacin has ACE potential. Yes, legitimate ace potential that everyone claims is so rare. Potential is far from the real thing though. Chacin has proven he can put up great statistics no matter where he pitches, but true aces are consistent and prove it time and time again. In 2010-2011 Chacin was flat-out brilliant. He had a 3.48 ERA in 52 Starts and looked like he was on the rise to super-stardom. Chacin needs to stay in shape, and cut down on his Walks (4.2 BB/9 over his career), but he might end up going down as the best pitcher in Rockies history when his time with the franchise comes to an end, whenever that may be.
Ubaldo Jimenez was right there with him until they dealt him to Cleveland. Both were dominant for a time, and actually had scary similar numbers while with the Rockies. While I’m on the subject I wonder what fans think of the Jimenez trade now? He was really good in Colorado, and you would think a move away from Coors Field would benefit a pitcher, but Jimenez has faltered badly with Cleveland.
So to get back on track, the Rockies have a chance to be much better in 2013 than they were in 2012 because they are essentially getting their 3 best pitchers back from injury. I also am optimistic that those 3 guys could be as good as they have ever been in 2013. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Jhoulys Chacin gets back to his 2010-2011 ways and puts together a season that puts him in the Cy Young conversation. I’m ready to see if Chacin can take the reins of this Colorado Rockies pitching staff in 2013. Opening day is less than 2 weeks away!
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***
A big thank-you goes out to our baseball writer Ryan Dana for preparing today’s featured article. Ryan is junior studying physical education with a concentration in coaching at Bridgewater State University. He has been playing baseball since he was 7 and coaching since he was 14. Ryan wants to be a college baseball coach once he graduates. Ryan is, and always will be, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. Secondary to baseball, he is a big health and fitness enthusiast. You can find Ryan on Twitter . Follow @ryandana1
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Posted on March 22, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2007 World Series, 25 man roster colorado rockies, @ryandana1 on twitter, ace, chris volstad, christian friedrich, cleveland indians, colorado rockies, Coors Field, cy young, dan o'dowd, Danny Neagle, Denver, drew pomeranz, injuries, jeff francis, jhoulys chacin, jorge de la rosa, juan nicasio, mike hampton, pitching rotation, ryan dana, stephen strasburg, Tommy John Surgery, tyler chatwood, ubaldo jimenez, Walt weiss. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.