Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rockies Depth in Full Display

At any point in the history of the Colorado Rockies if three of the projected five starting pitchers had gone on the disabled list, the Rockies could have kissed their season goodbye.

2010 is a different year for the Rockies.

On Saturday night, Jhoulys Chacin, who was helped by a six-run 1st inning, gave a glimpse into what can happen when a team decides to build from within. He helped the Rockies to a 8-0 victory over the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Chacin was staked to a 6-0 lead before he took the mound, but he did not let the lead affect the way he pitched. At his age, 22, it would have been easy to take a step back, take a deep breath and relax with a large lead. With the Dodgers lineup, a six run lead can be easily erased.

The young right hander did not waver, however, as he completely dominated the strong Dodger lineup in their own back yard.

Chacin pitched 7-1/3 innings on Saturday night, giving up six hits, three of which came off of the bat of Andre Eithier. He struck out seven and walked just two batters. After 14-1/3 innings of big league pitching in 2010, Chacin has yet to give up a run.

Ubaldo Jimenez set the Rockies record for the most consecutive innings scoreless streak by a starting pitcher at 25-1/3 innings. No one thought that Jimenez's new record would be challenged for years to come, let alone in the same month that the record was set.

The emergence of Chacin, and to a lesser degree Esmil Rogers, the Rockies are showing the benefit of growing prospects from within. Throughout years of struggle, the front office knew that if they were patient and waited for their farm system to develop strong players, they would be rewarded with pitchers who can pitch and hitters who can hit.

Chacin's performance makes the Rockies in a tough position, yet a good one to be in, when the injured pitchers start coming back. WIth Jason Hammel throwing six innings in Triple-A on Saturday it looks as if Rogers has made his last start this time around with the Rockies.

However, when Jeff Francis or Jorge De La Rosa makes their return to the mound, the decision will get tough. Do the Rockies decide to send down Chacin, who has shown that he is ready to pitch against big-time Major League lineups? Or do the Rockies decide that Greg Smith could use a little more time down on the farm to show what he can do?

Decisions like that are tough to make, but Chacin is making it a little bit easier. If the 22 year old continues to dominate at the big league level, Smith might just find himself about an hour south of Denver, pitching in Colorado Springs.

Something that must be noted, Chacin, who made his debut in '09, looks far more confident on the mound. His fastball command, something that was severely lacking during his brief stint with the big club in '09, is clearly where it needs to be.

Going into the 2010 season, the Rockies were looking at a starting rotation that featured four 10 game winners the previous season, and the return of Jeff Francis, their ace when they went to the World Series in 2007.

The fact that three of those starters have found themselves on the disabled list and the Rockies are still right at .500 is a huge testament to how deep the farm system is and how much talent the Rockies have.

Even without the offense hitting on all cylinders, the Rockies have done a good enough job to keep themselves in the race early on, something that they have not been able to accomplish over the course of the past three seasons.

The Rockies send their ace, their first ever true ace, to the mound on Sunday in the form of Ubaldo Jimenez. The flamethrower will not have an easy task in trying to be the first pitcher in Major League Baseball to win seven games. He faces lefty Clayton Kershaw who has given the Rockies fits in his short career.

For more on the Rockies visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on InDenverTimes.com

No comments:

Post a Comment