Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Colorado Rockies need to re-sign Kevin Millwood

Don't expect him to be an ace. Don't expect him to be dominant. Don't expect awe inspiring pitching.

Do expect Kevin Millwood to be the Colorado Rockies fifth starter in 2012.

After another extremely impressive start from the veteran, the Rockies should have seen enough of him to know that he still has what it takes to be in a big league rotation. Before the Rockies signed him in late July, Millwood was ready to retire after failing to get a big league call up with both the Yankees and Red Sox Triple-A squads.

As soon as Millwood made him plans to go home for the last time, the Rockies called, giving him an audition. The move came with grumbling from the fans. Many wondered why the team wouldn't give their prospects a chance to get their feet wet at the big league level and show what they can do. Many thought of Millwood as a re-tread who would give up too many home runs at Coors Field.

However, Millwood has done nothing but prove that he still has the talent to pitch at the big league level. He will never be the 2002 version of himself, a guy who won 18 games for the Atlanta Braves. Yet, he still has a chance to be an impact player.

If Millwood isn't the pitcher that he once was, he is quickly proving how good of a pitcher that he actually is.

The measure of a good pitcher is not how good of pitches they possess, it isn't about how hard they can throw the ball. The measure of a good pitcher is how many outs they can get. A true pitcher can pitch his way out of jams. He can find ways to induce ground ball double plays, get strikeouts when necessary, and not be afraid to throw all of his pitches in the strike zone.

That is exactly what Millwood does. In seven starts with the Rockies, Millwood has walked six batters. He pounds the strike zone and is rewarded with outs.

If Millwood's pitching isn't enough to convince people that he deserves to be in the rotation, look no further than Drew Pomeranz's comments to Root Sports Alanna Rizzo after his Major League debut on Sunday.

Pomeranz was quick to point out that his nerves were calmed in part because Millwood took him into the video room the night before the game and watched video of Red's hitters, helping him prepare his game plan.

That shows what kind of player Millwood is. He isn't the veteran who is self-centered and is too good to help out a rookie, he is a veteran, equipped with 162 career wins, who is willing to work with a guy who is barely a year removed from the day he was drafted.

That type of pitcher is exactly what the Rockies need on the mound. They need someone who can show the rest of the staff how to throw strikes and get outs without having the best stuff. However, even more importantly than a veteran who can be the example of what a pitcher is supposed to be on the mound is a veteran pitcher who can show the younger arms how to be a pitcher in the clubhouse.

The Rockies starting pitchers are extremely young. The potential starting five for the Rockies in 2012 will be Jhoulys Chacin, 23, Drew Pomeranz, 23, Alex White, 23, Esmil Rogers, 26.

At some point, Jorge De La Rosa will return and bring some experience to the staff, but that is a rotation full of very young pitchers who will need a veteran who can show them how to act and how to pitch at the big league level. Millwood has already shown that he can be that guy with the leadership that he has displayed in his short time in Colorado so far.

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