Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Colorado Rockies, Jeremy Guthrie rocked in Arizona

It might be time to pull the plug on Jeremy Guthrie.
For the third straight game, the story for the Colorado Rockies is their starting pitcher.

Tuesday night's story, however, tells quite the opposite tale. In Phoenix, Jeremy Guthrie was hit hard by the Diamondbacks, giving up seven earned runs on 11 hits in just 3-1/3 innings. The Rockies went on to lose 10-0, getting a performance from Ian Kennedy that hasn't been seen since he won 20 games a year ago.

One week ago the Rockies designated Jamie Moyer for assignment, giving up on the 49-year-old because he was ineffective. He gave up too many home runs and all too often couldn't keep the offense close enough to at least have a chance.

If ineffectiveness was the reason Moyer is no longer a Rockie, what is the excuse for Guthrie? The right-hander has been a gigantic bust for the Rockies. The trade that sent Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to the Baltimore Orioles for what the Rockies were selling as a serviceable ace has been nothing short of a disaster.

Hammel, after giving up one earned run in his start against the Red Sox on Tuesday, sits at 6-2 with a 2.97 ERA. Lindstrom has a 1.29 ERA in 13 appearances for his new club. Keep in mind, those two are pitching in the American League East, a division that has no shortage of sluggers to who do a good job of keeping pitchers humble.

The move to acquire Guthrie certainly ranks near the top of moves that general manager Dan O'Dowd must be regretting.

However, looking at the sports book reviews at the time of the trade, no one betting on baseball would have believed that Guthrie would be this bad. The right-hander may have led the American League in losses in 2011, but that number was deceiving. He had horrible run support, playing on a terrible team in Baltimore. He was a guy who had hit 200 innings in the prior three seasons and seemed like a veteran who could hold down the rotation for the Rockies.

Obviously, that couldn't have been further from the truth.

The maddening thing about Guthrie's performances is that nothing seems to change from start-to-start. Fans are used to players utilizing the state-of-the-art equipment that is in every big league clubhouse. Guthrie may be watching films of his starts, but there are no adjustments being made. His fastball has no life, no movement whatsoever on it, and it continues to be left in the middle of the plate.

Guthrie is constantly behind in counts, forcing him to use his fastball, which batter's are sitting on and driving. Despite being equipped with a mid-90's fastball, big league hitters are going to tee-off on that pitch if there is little movement and no deception in the delivery.

The question is, what do the Rockies do with Guthrie? When he was initially brought in, many thought that it might be a win-win situation. If the team ended up competing, he could be a guy who helped them win. If the team struggled, he was a guy that could bring back a valuable return from a team looking for an extra arm around the trade deadline.

Of course, neither of those two scenarios are holding true right now. With a starter better than Guthrie, the Rockies might be able to claim they are still in the race. However, the bike-riding "ace" of this staff has arguably been one of the biggest reasons why this team has been a failure.

So what is the solution? The answer is simple. It is time to bring Drew Pomeranz back to the big leagues and let him sort things out on the job. Pomeranz might have some wrinkles to iron out, but he has the confidence to do that at Coors Field instead of Security Service Field.

At this point, what trade value does Guthrie hold anyway? It would be selling low on him, but the idea that he might pitch well enough in his next five or six starts to regain some of that value seems preposterous. Guthrie is serving up batting practice and the plug needs to be pulled. It may sound harsh, but why keep a guy around who is keeping a team from contention, who is going to be a free agent after the season is over anyway?

The sports books in Las Vegas and the online casino's had the Rockies winning roughly 84 games in 2012. After spring training, that seemed about right. After Guthrie's performances, it sure looks like those who bet the under are not going to be sweating it out come September.

The Rockies send Josh Outman to the mound on Wednesday night. It will be his second start of the season, and first in which he will be stretched out enough to go more than 55 or 60 pitches. He did well in his debut against the Dodgers. The Rockies hopes for respectability lie in pitchers who weren't expected to contribute, suddenly contributing in a big way.

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