The first month of the season has been a roller coaster ride for Rockies fans,but the team managed to enter May with a .500 record. Jeremy Guthrie is the first player to go down with an injury and JhoulysChacin was demoted, so the starting pitching depth will be tested. Here, we discuss Guthrie’s replacement, evaluate Wilin Rosario and reflect on the season so far.
Which pitcher should be given the chance to start until Guthrie returns (as early as Tuesday)?
Brendan: Guillermo Moscoso. I wanted to say Esmil Rogers (his stuff has been electric), but Rogers has carved out a nice niche in the bullpen and is needed there with the bullpen’s struggles lately. Moscoso was disappointing in his first start last week, whichwas consistent with how he has pitched in AAA. He had one good start for the Sky Sox, but his overall numbers (4 starts, 19.1 IP, 7.91 ERA) are terrible. Fortunately, this is not “Moscoso or bust” because there are other options at AAA (Christian Friedrich, Alex White, Carlos Torres, Tyler Chatwood). Moscoso’s success in Oakland last year earned him the right of first failure, but he needs to have a short leash and another dismal outing should open the door for someone else to take Chacin’s spot.
Kevin: There’s no great option in the minors to fill Guthrie’s void. Guillermo Moscoso fit with the schedule, so he made sense for the first start Guthrie missed. But who is the most deserving? I would say Alex White, but I am hesitant to promote him because I would like to see him continue to develop in Colorado Springs. Christian Friedrich has had a great start to the year, but again, I am hesitant to promote him to the big leagues because the last two seasons he has struggled in AA and he is recovering from a minor leg injury. Tyler Chatwood still hasn’t pitched enough in the minors so that his arm is strong enough to handle starting. However, someone has to be promoted, and I would select Moscoso simply because he has the most major league service time, which should make him comfortable starting three or four games. This would allow Friedrich, White, and Chatwood to continue to develop and be more prepared for when the Rockies come calling later in the season (or sooner now thatChacinhas been demoted).
Ned: Although the Rockies have already chosen Moscoso to fill a starting spot, there is still a starting spot open due to Chacin’s well-deserved demotion. The choice seems to be among Friedrich, White and Chatwood. Friedrich had an excellent April (.82 WHIP and 2.59 ERA). He would be the clear choice to call-up but for the fact that he is coming off a recent injury. White still doesn’t seem to be able to consistently keep the ball down which has been a big problem since his acquisition late last July. Chatwood was hit very hard throughout spring training, but has had several good outings in AAA. On May 3, he was pulled due to triceps tightness. Consequently, that leaves Alex White by default. It is never a good sign when a player is called up only because there are no better options.
How do you evaluate Wilin Rosario’s performance so far?
Brendan: Perfect backup catcher. Rosario has been underwhelming in his limited role, but I am happy with his performance. Not unlike many young hitters, he crushes fastballs (7.42 runs/100 pitches) and struggles with breaking stuff (-4.37 runs/100 pitches for sliders; -2.49 runs/100 pitches for curveballs). His power shows why DOD was willing to part with Iannetta, while his struggles defensively and at the plate show why Hernandez was acquired. Rosario is not ready to handle the everyday catching responsibilities, but is perfectly suited to the backup/platoon role. Pacheco should not be considered as an alternative because his future is as a Jeff Baker-type of utility player and he needs to focus on developing that skill set.
Kevin: He looks like a catcher who belongs in AAA. Rosario’s WAR is -0.2. His hitting is bad (.237 OBP). He can’t hit righties (.599 OPS against righties). He can’t hit off-speed pitches. His defense is bad. Rosario has three passed balls in 81 innings. By comparison, Chris Iannetta has two passed balls in 166.1 innings. Rosario also struggles receiving a pitch when he has to move his glove out of the targeted area; this often results in the ump calling a pitch that is in the strike zone a ball. However, Rosario is gunning down 45 percent of would-be base stealers, which is tied for second in the NL. We knew that this would be a developmental year for Rosario, so his struggles aren’t surprising. The key to Rosario’s improvement is playing time. If Tracy is unwilling to give him lots of playing time behind the dish, then Rosario needs to be in AAA.
Ned: Rosario’s performance has been below expectations. Although his arm is very strong, he still needs work as a receiver. Rosario has way too many pitches that he doesn’t catch cleanly. While failure to catch cleanly may not result in passed balls, it does cost the pitcher a strike call from the umpire. Unexpectedly, Rosario’s hitting has been a bit of a disappointment; with 36 at bats this year, he is hitting for a .222 average. I worry about his game calling, but it is difficult to accurately evaluate that aspect of his performance. Thank goodness the Rockies have a very nice catcher in Ramon Hernandez.
What 3 words sum up the Rockies first month?
Brendan: No surprises here. Pitching was supposed to be average at best, terrible at worst: it has been both. Hitting was supposed to be improved: it is. Third base was supposed to be a disaster: it has been. The ceiling for the team was supposed to be a little over .500: that still holds. Despite the overreactions based on one bad pitch/at bat/game/week (a specialty of yours truly) this has been a fun team to watch, game in and game out. The mid-season arrivals of Arenado and DLR could push the Rockies to a higher level (another dangerous bat in the lineup and a top of the rotation starter? Yes, please), but the key will be avoiding losing streaks and managing to hang around the .500 mark until then.
Kevin: .500 is good. Given the current rag-tag state of the starting rotation, I am happy with .500, and I would be happy if the Rockies are .500 at the end of May. The starting rotation is a mess right now. Jeremy Guthrie might need a rehab assignment before he can return to the rotation, and his replacement, Guillermo Moscoso does not inspire any confidence. The Rockies demoted Chacin to AAA so that he can get his mechanics and head sorted out. Pomeranz has shown flashes of brilliance, but he has been unable to get deep in games because of high pitch counts. Jamie Moyer has been a pleasant surprise and a fun story, but his 3.14 ERA is unsustainable if he keeps giving up 11.3 hits per nine innings and allowing 1.57 baserunners per inning. If the Rockies can hold onto .500 while they get the starting rotation straightened out, they can make a run at the playoffs.
Ned: Mediocre but promising. No one should have expected the Rox to be at .500 with the poor starting pitching they had in April. The offense has been strong and deep, with the regulars in the 3-7 holes all hitting very well. Off the bench, EY is a game changer, and Giambi is always a serious walk-off threat. If Dex and Scutaro can continue to improve, and if we can get any offensive production out of third base, this could be a very entertaining offensive ball club. It will be a winning ball club if the starters can step it up and if the arms don’t fall off the overworked bullpen pitchers.
Have a different take? Let us know in the comments below.
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