Colorado Rockies Blogversation: Starting Pitching

Welcome to another ProSportsColorado Blogversation.  Here we take on the Colorado Rockies Starting Pitching for the 2012 Season.  Will Chacin fall apart?  Can Nicasio come back strong?  Is Jamie Moyer’s face melting or is he really that old?  Read on for answers to these questions and more…

Dan Olson

It goes Jeremy Guthrie, Jamie Moyer, Juan Nicasio, Jhoulys Chacin, and either Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Chatwood or Esmil Rogers. And if you’d like to know how many wins each are going to get I think it will be very few. I suppose we don’t know enough about Guthrie since he spent the better part of his career in the shadow of the AL East Juggernauts, but the rest don’t inspire a lot of confidence in dominating games.

Chacin apparently has a bad attitude and extra 5-10 pounds, Moyer is 180 years old in baseball years, Chatwood and Rogers have bad track records, and Nicasio is a great story but do you really want to go to war with a guy who 8 months ago you didn’t know if he was gonna be able to pick up a ball again?

The goal of this group of guys is not to win games, it’s to consume innings. Our lineup is stacked this year, by most account a top five lineup. The starting pitcher’s job is to stay in the game to protect the bullpen and pray our bats get to their bullpen first. This strategy can work in theory. It won’t amount to the Ws you like you’re starting pitchers to have though. If it works it sure will make for some exciting baseball.

Ian Cerveny

Guthrie is the most intriguing of the bunch. He is no ace, but he is a mature pitcher with a fantastically deceptive breaking ball. Interestingly, he is a fly ball pitcher who will make roughly half his starts at Coors Field where fly balls often turn into whoopsy homers. Still, I love him on the road because he’s been tenderized by the AL East and should have long ago been robbed of normal human emotions like fear and panic.

Moyer is wait ‘n see pure ‘n simple. It’s actually sort of a relief to have a veteran pitcher to throw out there and not have any real expectations of performance. The last couple years watching Aaron Cook break down was heart-wrenching, but only because I had fond memories of the guy with his be-mohawked son marching around the outfield after the Rockies clinched a playoff berth. With Moyer there is no such fondness. If he falters, he’s a quick cut.

Dan – I don’t think you’re being fair to Nicasio. I know his injury was brutal, but we’ve seen plenty of pitchers come back from could-be career enders and be better for it. Nicasio strikes me as one helluva fighter, and if the physical capability is there he is going to be another mentally tough pitcher in a lineup of mentally tough pitchers…

With the noteworthy exception of ‘Shakes’ Chacin. The guy strikes me as gutless, and after the Ubaldo fiasco I am done with gutless pitchers. Bringing guys up from South America is always a risky proposition because you don’t know what you’re getting in terms of toughness and heart. Sometimes it pans out (Nicasio!?), sometimes it doesn’t (Ubaldo). We learned our lesson with Jimenez. Chacin will be trade bait in a hurry if he doesn’t go out there and battle, even more quickly if he turns into a little bitch in the clubhouse.

Jason Ackerman

I’m writing this just minutes after Moyer was removed from Saturday night’s game, which as of now is a demonstration of what happens when our offense goes silent. But that’s another article.

Guthrie was fine. He made a few crucial mistakes, and paid for each of them, but overall he was as advertised – bend but don’t break, and pitch late into the game. 7 innings from the starter, 1 from Brother Rex and 1 from Betancourt, all backed by a Tulo HR is the prototypical script for a Rockies win. So while I wouldn’t say Guthrie was dominant, he was good enough to get the job done.

Moyer and his blistering 79mph fastball were not dominant either, but they weren’t as bad as the score might indicate. A couple of his slow-pitch hangers got put over the fence, but the defense tonight has been uncharacteristically sloppy – including a 3-error inning (2 from Scutaro, 1 from Nelson). Moyer did what he does – works location, mixes in a low-60s changeup (?!), and kept the Astros off balance for the most part. He allowed a few runs, the defense didn’t help, and the offense has been completely stymied by Lucas Harrell.

Nicasio stands to be one of the best stories in major league baseball. If spring is any indication, he’s back at the level he was at before the injury. His velocity is back, and most importantly, he’s seen a couple blistering come-backers and has hardly flinched. The key for Nicasio is his mental state – physically, he’s fine. We’re watching to see if his psyche can handle being in the line of fire again. Seems like that’s the case.

Chacin… I reluctantly agree with Ian. I very easily fall in love with the smoking fastball and the wicked curve, both of which Chacin has. He has #1 type stuff – but we all know he’s not an ace yet. I’m hopeful he kept a keen eye on the Ubaldo disaster, and has learned from it. But he’s on a short leash, and I don’t think O’Dowd will hesitate to move him if he doesn’t perform early.

The fifth starter is actually Drew Pomeranz for now. He’s not on the roster yet, but they’re throwing the first four, and then bringing him up to likely start Sunday the 15th against Arizona. Pomeranz was the key piece in the Ubaldo trade, particularly with Alex White getting sent down to AAA to start the season. He’s better than a #5, and I think the key to where this rotation really stands is to see how quickly Pomeranz develops, and whether or not he’s a legitimate starter this year. If Pomeranz shows up with the performance he’s capable of, we’re looking at our next ace. My prediction is that Pomeranz is our opening day starter next year. This year… not going to win 20, but I’d look for 14 or 15 out of him.

Chatwood and Rogers are in the bullpen, but should any of these guys trip up, those are your candidates to step up and start. Rogers smacks of unrealized potential, but Chatwood could be the real deal. I’m curious to see how he performs in middle relief.

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