Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tyler Colvin hits two home runs in first start of 2013 as Colorado Rockies gain ground in race

Tyler Colvin stated his case on Tuesday night.
Apparently Tyler Colvin knows how to make his case better than the guy he was traded for, Ian Stewart.

The Colorado Rockies outfielder, called up over the weekend after being optioned to Triple-A after a poor spring training, showed that he believes he should be at the big league level. On a hot night at Coors Field on Tuesday, Colvin made the most of his first 2013 start, launching two home runs, to help the Rockies win 8-3 over the Nationals.

Colvin's first home run came in the 5th inning, tying the game at two. It kicked off the scoring for the Rockies, who ended up putting five runs on the board in that inning, as Carlos Gonzalez added a three-run bomb to give the Rockies a lead.

In the 8th inning, Colvin went deep again, another two run homer, that gave the Rockies some breathing room after Ian Desmond had plated a Nationals run in the top half of the inning to bring Washington within two runs. The two-run homer for Colvin made sure the momentum the Nationals had gained in the top half of the inning was squelched.

The win was a big one for the Rockies, who gained ground on both the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who each lost on Tuesday night.

On the mound, the Rockies got a workmanlike performance from starter Jhoulys Chacin. The right-hander has been suffering from the flu over the past couple of days, but was able to make his start on Tuesday night. He made it through five innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out two. The pitch count got elevated in the 2nd inning, where both of the runs came. In 95 pitches, Chacin threw 61 strikes.

Colvin's first blast, then CarGo's behind him, gave Chacin the win. It was his first win in his last eight starts.

No one ever doubted Colvin's talent. However, after a spring training in which he put up Ian Stewart-like numbers, the Rockies elected to keep Eric Young, Jr. on the roster and let Colvin work out his issues in Colorado Springs, where he could get at-bats consistently.

The move may have been necessary, but it left the Rockies with a huge hole. The starting lineup is full of guys who can hit, and put up strong power numbers. However, there were times when late in the game and the Rockies down by a run, where Walt Weiss had the awkward duty of sending Young to the plateto pinch hit.

With all due respect to Young, he isn't the prototypical power hitter. In a late-inning situation down by a run, Young isn't the guy anyone thinks about who has a chance to tie the game, or give them a lead if there is a runner on base. That role belongs to someone who possesses a bat that is a threat to hit it into the second deck. With the departure of Jason Giambi, the Rockies have been missing that piece.

Colvin was the obvious choice for that spot. Many critics questioned the Rockies sending him down. After all, he was the best Rockies hitter for better than a month in 2012. On Tuesday, Colvin may have either proven the front office right, or made them look bad, depending on how it is looked at.

Maybe the Rockies were right to let Colvin work out the kinks an hour south of Coors Field. He may have figured it out just in time to make an impact when the Rockies need him the most, or he may have shown that he should have been with the big club all year long.

Either way, Colvin made his point loud and clear. He belongs in the big leagues. He has a good enough bat to help the Rockies win baseball games. He is the power bat who can play multiple roles for this team. He can play first base when Todd Helton needs a day off and Michael Cuddyer is healthy. He can play outfield against tough righty's and give Cuddyer a breather. He can also be a guy who can give the Rockies a big fly off of the bench late in the game. He showed on Tuesday that he belongs at Coors Field.

Ironically, earlier in the day, the guy who the Rockies sent to the Chicago Cubs as part of the Colvin deal, Ian Stewart, made news for all of the wrong reasons. During a late night rant, the former first round draft pick who is hitting .168 for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, Stewart ripped Cubs ownership, their manager, essentially saying that they are doing him wrong by not having him at the big league level.

Stewart may have been venting frustration, but it highlighted the immaturity that Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies saw, and wisely got rid of, before his value was gone. Anyone who has paid attention in recent years knows that O'Dowd has received his fair share of grief from Rockies analysts. In reality, it has been well deserved.

However, credit must be given where it is due. The move of O'Dowd to acquire both Colvin and DJ LeMahieu from the Cubs for Stewart and Casey Weathers, a closer who never reached his potential and never fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, was one of the best that the general manager has made in his time with the Rockies.

Colvin could continue to push for playing time. His left-handed bat is something that could clearly use more frequently, and the power potential he brings is the missing piece in the Rockies arsenal.

The Rockies look to gain another game on Wednesday night. Jorge De La Rosa looks to clean up after his last start and Ross Ohlendorf takes the hill for the first time in 2013 for the Nats. The Rockies need a good outing from De La Rosa and another solid night on the mound from their starter.

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  1. I agree totally with your piece as it is spot on. I never understood the demotion of Colvin with his other attributes whereas Young is a defensive liability... especially if you are only carrying 4 outfielders.

  2. time to retire Francis.
    time to move Cuddyer, Pacheco, Garland.
    bring up McBride, Pomerantz.
    or will the Monforts screw up another season?

  3. Garland is already gone... Francis is not far behind...Agree with Rockies that once they bring up Pomerantz, they want it to be for good... Oswalt worth a look... Nacasio may be better in the pen..

    It is absolutely time to say goodbye to Eric Young, Jr..... no defense...and his on-base is under .300.... what is it they see in him again? Colvin much better as fourth outfielder, and left-handed pitch hitter....

    The Rockies are in the pennant race... go get a number one or number two starting pitcher in July for the stretch....Nothing wrong with the line-up... perhaps a little more patience at the plate for a better on-base percentage (Rosario, are you listening).