The Blake Street Bulletin staff each put together a preview of the 2012 season for the Colorado Rockies. Leading up to the Rockies first game of the season on Thursday we will publish an article reviewing the four major parts of the team: infield, outfield, starting rotation and bullpen.
We rate each group on a scouting scale of 20-80 with 80 being Hall of Fame or All-Star level and 20 being a player who shouldn’t be in the big leagues. You might hear a scout say that Troy Tulowitzki has an 80 arm or that Dexter Fowler has 40 power. This means that Tulo has as good of an arm that can be found and Fowler has below average power. Giambi would probably get an 80 for his power but 20 for his speed.
The starting rotation has been announced and is as follows: Jeremy Guthrie will pitch Opening Day in Houston on Friday with Jamie Moyer and Juan Nicasio pitching in games two and three. Starting in Denver on Monday and opening Coors Field for the year is Jhoulys Chacin and Drew Pomeranz rounds out the rotation in the fifth spot.
I have seen some talk on the internet questioning why Chacin fell from possibly starting on Opening Day to being the fourth starter in the rotation. Don’t make a big deal out of the order of the rotation. Chacin was slated fourth mainly to start in Denver to open the home season. Being fourth in the rotation isn’t some sort of indictment on Chacin’s ability to pitch.
The biggest concern for the Rockies rotation is that they do not have an ace or even one that resembles an ace. The Rockies are facing an uphill climb in 2012 in catching Arizona and San Francisco and lengthy losing streaks is something the team cannot endure. One of the benefits of an ace is that every fifth game the team has a pitcher on the mound that shuts down the opposing team. I think it is safe to say that if the Rockies needed to win one game and one game only that most anyone would have a hard time picking anyone among the current staff to start that one game. Most of us would rather look elsewhere for that pitcher; he isn’t on the Rockies staff.
View from 132: Starting pitching is perhaps the most glaring weakness on the roster. Guthrie was acquired from the Orioles, Pomeranz from the Indians organization and Jamie Moyer from the senior citizens lounge. While those names are not exactly striking fear into the heart of NL West opponents, where the Rockies lack front line star power, they do have back end depth with Guillermo Moscoso, Alex White, Josh Outman, Tyler Chatwood and even, gulp, Esmil Rogers. Guthrie is a serviceable starter and moving from the brutal AL East to the much more pitcher friendly NL West should help him be successful. Chacin has all the makings of a potential ace, but was called out by O’Dowd for ignoring the team all off season and showing up out of shape. Nicasio is fighting back from that horrific incident last year but nonetheless remains an effective pitcher. Pomeranz is a potential rookie of the year candidate who had some ups and downs last year in the big leagues but has all the makings of a front end of the rotation kind of guy. He (along with White) has some big shoes to fill after being the key piece in the deal that convinced O’Dowd to part with the Jimenez last summer. Moyer, in spite of all the old jokes, is an incredible story and should provide the Rockies with 5-6 innings of quality baseball with each start. The X-factor of the starting rotation is Jorge De La Rosa. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be back as soon as June, but more likely sometime around the All Star break. If the Rockies are in contention, look for them to hold steady at the trade deadline because of his return. Teams generally need 7 or 8 quality starting pitchers to make it through the long season and the depth at the back end of the rotation will likely be an advantage. Still, it is hard to make a case for a team without much proven front end talent to be able to compete consistently with Cy Young candidates like Ian Kennedy, Tim Lincecum, and Clayton Kershaw.
Tom Ley: This is why it sucks to not have an ace anymore. When I look at the Rockies starting rotation, I can’t help but think, “Man, most of these guys need to have career years in order for us to compete.” And that really is the truth, everything has to break almost perfectly for this team’s pitching staff to be effective. Things aren’t this way when you have a bonafide ace, though. When you have that, you can count on him slapping up a sub-3.00 ERA and picking up a great deal slack for the other 4 guys. The Rockies don’t have that guy, and I’m afraid that the starting staff is doomed to crumble under overwhelming mediocrity.
Brandon Cloud: [I think this sums it up pretty well] This group is of course the great unknown; look for stretches of excitement and ones of great struggle. This group could grow up fast and outperform expectations and surprise some though.
As for rankings Kevin Kroh decided to give two different scores, 1. without Jorge De La Rosa Kroh gives the rotation a 55 and 2. with DLR he bumps it up, slightly, to 60.
BSB positional grade gives the rotation a 40
Kevin is by far the most optimistic of the group but other than Chacin there isn’t any track record among the other four to honestly think any of them can turn in a season with an ERA under 4.00. Pomeranz and Nicasio don’t have enough big league innings to know what we should expect. And for the older two pitchers Guthrie has a career ERA near 4.20 and Moyer’s ERA has only been under 4.00 once since 2004 (his career ERA is 4.24 but 4.59 since that 2004 season).
Tomorrow we wrap it up with the bullpen.