When Jorge De La Rosa comes back from injury, they are going to have a very difficult decision to make. There is not enough room on the roster for six starters. So someone has to be the odd man out.
After a 5-1 win over the Astros on Monday night in which Hammel went 7-1/3 innings, giving up no runs, the decision will not be easy.
Jhoulys Chacin has shown that he has the stuff to be in a Major League rotation. At 22-years old, he still has some maturing to do. However, he has made it clear that he will factor prominently in the Rockies rotation in the years to come.
With the remainder of the rotation consisting of the team's current ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, and two former ace's Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook, the decision of who loses their spot really comes down to Chacin or Hammel.
One of the toughest parts about being a good team is having to make hard decisions. Five years ago, the thought of the Rockies having several options to fill their fifth spot in the rotation would have caused laughter from those who knew the team best. As recently as 2007, the year the Rockies found themselves in the World Series, the club's original five man rotation featured journeyman Rodrigo Lopez as the No. 3 starter.
Hammel's start on Monday went a long way to show that he should be the one staying in a Rockies uniform. The tall righty got 12 ground ball outs and three strike outs. He was able to induce two double plays when he got into jams.
Hammel was helped out by suddenly hot Clint Barmes. The second baseman is known for causing Rockies fans to gnash their teeth and pull their hair out. Yet, to be fair, he is hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position, and delivered once again on Monday, lining a fastball off the left field wall in the second inning, giving the Rockies a 2-0 lead.
Todd Helton, fitted with contact lens earlier in the day, delivered a sacrifice fly following Miguel Olivo's RBI triple to give the Rockies a 5-0 cushion.
As far as the battle to stay in the rotation, the favorite has to be Hammel. If for no other reason than the fact that Jhoulys Chacin has minor league options remaining, and is young enough to be able to benefit from the Triple-A seasoning. In addition, without options, there is little chance that Hammel would make it through waivers to get to the minors.
That makes the decision easy because if anyone else gets hurt, or De La Rosa proves that he is not healthy after a couple of starts, the Rockies could simply pull Chacin back up. If Hammel was the odd man out and something else happened, the club would be out of luck and looking for help from a young pitcher like Esmil Rogers or a someone to plug a hole via trade.
It doesn't make the decision any easier, but it is a testament to the depth that the Rockies have created. It is a problem that teams who find themselves in the playoffs deal with consistently.
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