Now that we are just over half way through the year, it’s probably time for some mid season evaluations. Many may question the point of grading a team that has fallen so short of expectations and I have to admit that it’s a valid point. As a team, I’d probably have to give the Rockies a D at best. They should be much better than they’ve played so far. However, the point of this exercise is to evaluate the players on a case by case basis. Today, the starting pitchers receive their report cards.
One thing that has plagued the Rockies’ entire staff is inconsistency. With the exception of Aaron Cook, every starter has displayed flashes of greatness, but they’ve all struggled to maintain it. For some of these guys, we should’ve expected that, but Ubaldo’s up and down ways have been particularly detrimental to the Rox overall success. I’ll start with him.
Ubaldo Jimenez — C
Most don’t realize it, but overall Ubaldo hasn’t been as bad as his ERA indicates. His FIP is a very respectable 3.62. However, that’s not what we’ve come to expect from the team’s ace; it’s below the standard he has set over the last two seasons. Earlier this season, Ubaldo threw a complete game shut-out against the Dodgers and it was one of the best starts of his career. So, he still has it in him and he’s been much better since that start. But, the Rockies really need their ace to go deeper into games and dominate on a consistent basis. Hopefully, he’ll earn a much better grade in the second half.
Jhoulys Chacin — B+
Jhoulys has been a godsend this year. If not for him, the Rockies would be all but done. Of course, they’re close to that point anyway. For most of the first half, it looked like Chacin would have a really good shot at making the All-Star team, but some struggles as of late kept him from that. Still, overall, he’s been excellent. I didn’t give him a higher grade because he has to do a better job of keeping the ball in the yard. Some of his high HR rate is attributable to bad luck, but it’s also a product of some poor location. Either way, I fully expect him to improve upon that as the season continues. In a season that has been tough on all Rockies’ fans, Chacin has been one of the few bright spots.
Jason Hammel — C+
I gave Hammel a C+ despite some pretty bad struggles at home this year. Basically, he’s pitched as expected. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all right in line with his career track record. And that’s acceptable. Jason should be a fifth starter, but injuries and the decline of Aaron Cook have thrust him into a bigger role for this staff.
Juan Nicasio — B+
For a rookie that wasn’t even suppose to be in the bigs this year, Nicasio has performed quite well. Also, I think his absolute dominance in AA should factor into his grade. Certainly, he’s been inconsistent, and, like Jhoulys, he needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the yard. But, I’ll take a 4.17 FIP and a 3.47 xFIP all day. Right now, his strike out rate is a little low, but his electric stuff should make it easy for him to K more hitters as he matures. I’m very interested to see how Juan does once big league hitters begin to make adjustments.
Aaron Cook — F
Granted, I’m writing this right after Cookie was absolutely hammered by the Braves, but the Rockies really need more from him. He has lost his sinker, which is a significant problem for a sinker ball pitcher. It might be time to put him in the bullpen.
Jorge De La Rosa — A
I can’t fault Jorge for blowing out his elbow. Up until he was injured, DLR was a rock while the Rockies were waiting on Ubaldo to figure it out. It goes without saying that his injury has left a huge void in the starting rotation. Hopefully, he’ll be back better than ever. As long as he can still throw that wicked change-up, he’ll be fine.
Esmil Rogers — D
Wait. Esmil Rogers is still on the roster?
What do you think? Was I too harsh? Too easy?