Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Colorado Rockies Rotation Starting To Come Around

The biggest bragging point for the Rockies coming into spring training was that despite the loss of Jeff Francis, the team would have more depth at the starting pitcher spot than the franchise had ever seen.

Indeed, in 2008 the Rockies signed castoffs Kip Wells and Josh Towers to be backup plans if Franklin Morales or Ubaldo Jimenez struggled out of the gates. That meant that the number three pitcher in the rotation would be journeyman Mark Redman.

The original five already look stronger than last year's. Jimenez looks confident and Jason Marquis, who has won games in the double digits for the last five years. That alone is a marked difference from last year's number three in the rotation, Mark Redman.

This season the Rockies are still depending on young pitchers who have yet to prove themselves in the big leagues, however there is a distinct difference. The Rockies will go into the season with Jorge De La Rosa as the fourth starter and Morales as the fifth starter. The difference lies in the backup plan.

De La Rosa may struggle, despite the fact that he won 10 games last year, because he tends to have a hard time getting past the mental aspect of the game. He has all of the tools to be a good Major League pitcher, but it seems to be a flip of a coin whether he will be the good De La Rosa or the bad De La Rosa.

Morales was a huge part in the Rockies run to the World Series in 2007, but struggled early with the squad last season, was sent down to Colorado Springs and struggled there as well. That fact creates some concerns as to how he will fare going into the season.

This year's backup plan is quite a bit different than last years. At the big league level it looks as if the Rockies wll have Glendon Rusch and Matt Belisle ready to jump into the rotation if called upon. In addition to those two, it looks like Josh Fogg will be joining Jason Hirsh and Greg Reynolds and Greg Smith. Fogg is still not a guarantee due to his contract allowing him to opt out if he can get a job on an opening day roster elsewhere.

This depth is quite a bit different than last season. Fogg struggled last season, but has shown the ability to pitch at Coors Field and be a clubhouse leader that may be a perfect addition if a pitcher is faltering.

Hirsh has had success at the big league level. If he can regain his poise, he could easily be a big league calibur starter. Reynolds and Smith are both highly touted prospects and are seen as future potential aces.

It should be interesting to see how well the Rockies come out of the chute, but if they do not start strong, they definitely have some depth at starting pitcher to try and stabilize the ship.

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