Sunday, July 14, 2013

Despite Colorado Rockies struggles, Tyler Chatwood has become a bright spot

Tyler Chatwood has been a huge bright spot for the Rockies.
Another clunker, another disappointment. The Colorado Rockies lost 1-0 as Zach Grienke dominated them with Troy Tulowitzki sitting on the bench for reasons no one will ever know.

With two games under his belt after missing nearly a month with a broken rib, Tulowitzki was relegated to the bench, regardless of him reportedly being healthy. With the All-Star Break a day away, there is simply no reason the shortstop wouldn't be in the lineup when the team is playing an important game against a surging division rival while the offense has been non-existent for nearly a month.

Talking about the decision to leave Tulowitzki on the bench could go on and on. After two days of facing big league pitching, the last thing a manager should do is shut him down. It is important to get that repetition back in order to get his timing back. If the decision was Tulo's, someone needs to tell him to get tougher and figure out how to play through soreness.

The Tulowitzki playing situation makes no sense. However, as bad as things have been for the Rockies over the past month, it might be a good time to actually acknowledge good things that are happening with a team that simply is just pretending to contend, rather than actually being a team that will be playing in October.

The positive on Saturday comes in the form of hard-luck loser, Tyler Chatwood. The Rockies starter bounced back and forth from Triple-A to the big leagues a year ago. After coming to Colorado from the Angels for Chris Iannetta, many fans discounted what he would bring to the club when spring training commenced in February.

After failing to make the Opening Day roster, Chatwood was an afterthought. He was a guy who many figured would play a similar role to the one he played in 2012, where he might get a spot start here and there at the big league level, but would mostly fill in as a long reliever who was stuck on mop-up duty.

What many forgot was how young Chatwood is. He had Major League experience with the Angels mostly because they had injury issues and needed an extra arm. However, he made his debut at the tender age of 21. In his third season in the big leagues, it would be hard to argue that he hasn't figured it out.

On Saturday, in a lost cause, Chatwood recorded the Rockies first complete game since Jhoulys Chacin pulled off the feat over two years ago. Unfortunately for Chatwood, the complete game was of the eight inning variety because the Dodgers only needed one run to win, and didn't need the 9th inning to finish off the Rockies.

Chatwood at one point had recorded 14 outs via the ground ball, with zero fly ball outs recorded. He finished with 15 ground ball outs and four fly ball outs. In all, he gave up four hits and two walks. He also hit a batter. The lone run scored in the 1st inning, before most Los Angeles fans had found their seats.

The reality is, the loss stings for the Rockies. It was yet another miserable showing from the offense. It simply isn't acceptable for a team that has as much talent in the lineup--even without Tulo--to struggle so mightily at the plate.

However, Chatwood has been a huge ray of sunshine in an otherwise difficult season. After Saturday's gem, Chatwood has an ERA that sits at a tiny 2.56. When judging Chatwood, as many national writers seem to do often, don't forget that he pitches half of his games at Coors Field. Without pitching at altitude half of the time, what would his ERA look like?

Chatwood's success can largely be attributed to the fact that he doesn't pitch for a strikeout, he pitches to contact, but keeps the ball low in the zone. The right-hander has given up just two home runs all season long, with both coming in his previous start. His development has given Rockies fans a reason to hope.

As bad as things have been for the Rockies, they surprisingly have a chance to go into the All-Star Break with a 4-6 road trip. Heading out of Arizona, many fans would have been thrilled if the Rockies were able to snag two games on the trip. A win would finish off the first half of the season on a good note and give them a good chance to go into the break with momentum that they can build on as they get two very weak teams at home when the break is over.

At this point, the Rockies contending is something that can't be seriously discussed. They don't deserve to be called contenders, even in a bad division. If they can regroup after the All-Star Break and make a run, they may earn the title of contender back, but at this point, it simply isn't realistic.

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  1. Have to give Greinke credit for his pitching performance, The Rox were hitting grounders to the infield all day.

  2. David as you stated earlier it can be discussed forever but Tulo sitting out and then if he plays in the All Star game will be as mind boggling to me as any move anyone makes. I just hope we are not seeing another Larry Walker on our hands who sits out every time there is a great pitcher on the hill.