|Drew Pomeranz has talent, but was below expectation in 2012.|
The lefty went five strong innings on Wednesday night in another rain-delayed Rockies game. He walked three batters, one semi-intentionally, but gave up only three hits and held the Cubs scoreless in a series that has amounted to battling it out for rights to the second overall draft pick in June of 2013.
The season that Pomeranz, the prize piece of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, has had has been nothing short of a major disappointment. His ERA sits just above 5.00, and his spent an extended part of the season in Colorado Springs, where frankly, he struggled to find his groove.
Pomeranz's biggest issue has been his command. His stuff is good enough to compete at the big league level, but he hasn't been able to consistently throw strikes.
What is confusing about the prized lefty is that he was nearly un-hittable at the minor league level. He made his big league debut just over a month after signing his first professional contract. In his Rockies organizational debut in Tulsa in August of 2011, he was nearly perfect. After getting called to the big leagues, he made a great impression, pitching with confidence, looking nothing like a kid who was pitching in college 18 months before.
Suddenly, the Rockies decided after his impressive debut, that they didn't like his arm slot. They thought that it was time to tinker with his mechanics and work on his delivery. Those experiments led to horrible numbers in Triple-A and questions over whether the former No.1 draft pick was going to reach his potential.
Finally, after many questionable starts, Pomeranz finally looked like the guy the Rockies had wanted so desperately. After the game, the remarks he made indicted the Rockies plan for him. He basically said that instead of thinking of all the things the Rockies were working on with him, he just picked up his leg and threw the ball to the plate.
The reality is, the Rockies have a great opportunity to turn things around in a hurry. Despite the disappointing season from both Pomeranz and the other member of the Jimenez trade, Alex White, the team is full of young talent that possesses talent that could put them in a strong position to succeed a year from now.
Those two pitchers, combined with Christian Friedrich, who at times showed a focus that was years beyond a typical rookie, coupled with the return of Jorge De La Rosa, a healthy Jhoulys Chacin, a year older Tyler Chatwood, another go from Juan Nicasio and a veteran presence of Jeff Francis and the Rockies actually have a significant number of starting pitchers to choose from.
If the Rockies move forward to ditch their 75-pitch limit debacle that they rolled out in June and go back to a 5-man rotation they have a chance to succeed. However, they also must take another huge step that goes beyond the mechanics of how the team plays on the field.
The Rockies absolutely must stop making Coors Field an excuse. They cannot continue down the path of believing that it is impossible to pitch at their home park. Everyone knows that it is a hitters park. However, the idea that something magical came in and made it play like it was suddenly on the moon has to be removed. In fact, the best thing that the Rockies have going for them is that they play in a different environment than anywhere else in the game.
Of course playing at a mile above sea level is going to take it's toll on a team. Recovery time is different, adjusting back to sea level pitches isn't easy. However, the toll that coming into Denver has on an opposition is far greater than the toll the Rockies have when they leave Coors Field. The club needs to embrace what they have, not continue to run away from it. Playing at Coors Field should be every opponent in the National League West's nightmare. They should hate to play at Coors because they know that the Rockies are built for it, and will exploit it on a nightly basis.
That fact alone will give the Rockies are swagger that will be tough to compete against. From there they can figure out how to bring that on the road with them, but that confidence has to start at the top.
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