Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grading the 2010 Colorado Rockies pitchers

There is no way around it. 2010 for the Colorado Rockies did not live up to its expectations.

The year began with expectations of the club's first ever National League West crown. After another slow start in April and May, the Rockies had a hole to crawl out of. They did that, coming within an error of being tied for first place at the All-Star break. However, their slow start did not give them the leverage to make it through another tough stretch.

That tough stretch came immediately after the break, as the Rockies embarked on a three-city, 11-game road trip. The well-documented trip included just two Rockies wins and essentially sealed the Rockies fate.

The Rockies go into the 2011 season with plenty to look forward to, however, there is still plenty to look back on before moving forward to before setting our sights on spring training.

In a two-part series, Rockies Review will be grading the Rockies players in 2010.

So here are the Rockies Review grades for the 2010 Colorado Rockies pitchers:


Ubaldo Jimenez- A

19 wins, an ERA under 3.00, the club's first no-hitter. A breakout season is an understatement. He did only win four games after the break, but might have felt the fatigue of eight starts in which his pitch count exceeded 120.

Jhoulys Chacin- A

Throw out the record. Despite losing 11 games, this kid impressed everyone. At just 22 years old look for Chacin to be no lower than third in the Rockies rotation in 2011. He still struggles with command, but has made huge strides. The Rockies future is bright with Chacin in the rotation.

Matt Belisle- A

Don't be surprised if news breaks that Belisle's arm has fallen off this winter. It seemed as if Belisle was on the mound everyday. His 92 innings was more than any other reliever in the National League. Not only did he eat up innings, he was extremely effective in those innings. His ability to put his foot down kept the Rockies in multiple games.

Matt Reynolds- A

Reynolds didn't make his Major League debut until August 19th, Reynolds made the Rockies wish they would have put him on the roster on Opening Day. He posted a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings, spanning 21 appearances. His presence allows the Rockies to have leverage in the offseason with Joe Beimel.

Rafael Betancourt- B+

In one of the least documented seasons, Betancourt quietly had a year for the history books. In 62-1/3 innings pitched, the Venezuelan struck out 89 batters while walking only eight. That is the best K/BB ration since Eric Gagne's 2003 Cy Young season. He doesn't get an A because he gave up too many home runs, with nine long balls, several of which were in crucial situations.

Jason Hammel- B

Despite his dead arm in September, Hammel proved his worth in June. He won four games in the month and lowered his ERA by nearly two runs. In his first four starts he gave up just one earned run in 29-1/3 innings. Coming into 2010 he was the No. 5 starter. By then end he was the No. 3. The dead arm kept him from an A.

Joe Beimel- B

Overall Beimel did his job getting lefties out. A few times Jim Tracy asked him to do something that Beimel shouldn't be asked to do, pitch a full inning. Righties his over .300 against him, and a few times the lefty specialist was hurt by that decision. His season ended quite a bit like his team's season, but to be fair to Beimel, there isn't enough ice in any clubhouse to take the swelling out of his left arm.

Jorge De La Rosa- B

He did everything that he could after missing two months with a freak finger injury. He has made huge strides to minimize his biggest issue, defeating himself. However, he still sometimes struggles with his own thoughts. The lefty has some of the best stuff in the league. If he decides that he is good and becomes a pitcher instead of a thrower, he could be an All-Star. He will dominate the offseason talk for the Rockies. Re-signing him should be tough, but the Rockies need to find a way to get it done.

Jeff Francis- B-

His career is, for all intents and purposes, done. He will never be the Francis that won 17 games for the Rockies in 2007. However, before his late season collapse, Rockies fans need to remember that he looked like a pretty good fifth starter. His debut against the Nationals in May was phenomenal and he was just as good when he picked up his first win in two seasons the following start in Kansas City. He gave up three or less earned runs in 11 of his first 16 starts. Francis should be back on a smaller, incentive-laden contract.

Esmil Rogers- C+

Rogers showed the talent to be in the big leagues. He struggled as a starter, but the inexperience should be taken into account for those struggles. He might be best suited out of the bullpen, but not as the long reliever, as many have suggested. If Rogers could use his stuff for just one inning, he could be a very valuable 7th inning guy, much like Matt Belisle was used in 2010. After as many innings as Belisle threw this season, the Rockies certainly need an alternative in the pen.

Huston Street- C-

Street was anything but the 2009 closer for the Rockies. After starting out on the disabled list, Street never was able to get a feel for his pitches. Even more than not having his best stuff, Street pitched scared. Instead of throwing strikes and challenging hitters to swing, the Texan nibbled at the strike zone and found himself in trouble. It seemed like Street dealt with trying to prove that he was both healthy, and good enough for his big three-year contract he signed in the offseason.

Manny Corpas- C

Rockies fans love to hate Corpas. He has struggled since anchoring the bullpen in the club's 2007 run to the World Series. While he struggled, he wasn't as bad as everyone makes him sound. His rolls changed on what seemed like a weekly basis. Early on he closed some games, then was asked to be a long reliever, then a situational guy, then back to long relief, then late innings, then long relief again. Corpas never complained. However, his arm couldn't handle it. His elbow finally said enough in the end of August. Tommy John surgery will cost Corpas his 2011 season.

Aaron Cook- D

Cook never had it. All season long he struggled to find his sinker. Before getting injured he gave up 11 leads that the offense had given him. The only reason that he doesn't get an F is because he pitched well after coming back from injury. The Rockies would have loved to dump even part of Cook's salary on any takers. Unfortunately, they are on the hook for $10 million in 2011.

Franklin Morales- F

Nothing went right for Morales. He looked like a little leaguer praying to hit the strike zone. When he did, the ball usually got crushed. Late innings are not for him. In fact, mentally, the big leagues might not be for him with his mentality right now. It might be time for the Rockies to take the opportunity to stretch him back out to be a starter. The bullpen is not for him.

Keep an eye out for infield grades over the weekend. Feel free to agree or disagree, just make sure to give a reason.

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  1. Nice article David.
    I'll quibble with you just a little if that's okay. No argument whatsoever on Ubaldo and Belisle. I'd give Chacin an A- because I still have a bad taste in my mouth on the 5-run inning he treated the Dodgers to on the last home game. I'd also grade Betancourt much higher, A-. He did give up a few long balls but he was a stud most of the time. I think he was much more effective than Beimel and should be more than 1/3 a grade above. Also I'm not sure Street and Corpas should get the same grade. Both had their moments, good and bad, but Street did eventually find his groove. Corpas came to scare me almost as much as Morales.

  2. Miketober-
    Fair enough, I can see why Corpas shouldn't be as high as Street. I can also see why Street should have been higher. I think my main thing with Corpas was that his roll shifted so many times, and he was being so overused, that he really did all he could.
    With Street, he did regain his form down the stretch, but he pitched scared all season in my mind. He wasn't attacking the strike zone like he did in '09. I'm sure part of that was due to the injury, but I see your point.

    I think Betancourt was overall phenomenal, he just made a couple of games a little closer than they should have been. I remember a big home run he gave up to Derrek Lee after Jason Hammel had pitched a brilliant game, and I believe Casey McGahee of the Brewers hit one that almost put Milwaukee over the top on June 20th. I think Beimel did a good job, but to use Tracy's words, his arm was sawdust by the end of the season.
    But overall, I can see your points.

    Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading!

  3. Enjoyed reading the entry. I think Chacin has a lot of upside and I agree with your evaluation of the bullpen.

  4. I keep reading your articles, and I continuously see spelling errors and sentence structure that is baffling, if you are indeed a degreed journalist. Sentences ending in prepositions, and a line that included the phrase "his roll shifted" are not your best work. What gives?

  5. To be honest, I don't really have an excuse for you. I would love to say that I am a more polished journalist and that I have perfected the art, but frankly, it is still a work in progress. I appreciate the feedback, I know that I struggle with prepositions sometimes, but the role vs roll is pretty embarrassing.