|Chad Bettis only got three innings of work for the Rockies.|
Wins and losses don't mean much on September 8th, when the playoffs are well out of reach. However, the games and the way the team plays must remain important, especially for a Colorado Rockies team that has talent, but has holes that are gaping that need to be addressed in the offseason.
The holes are so large that it makes sense for the Rockies to do everything that they can do in order to evaluate their talent down the stretch. Getting some of the questionable pieces game-action before the offseason begins is a huge opportunity that cannot be wasted.
With that in mind, the way the Rockies are going about it isn't making this team better for the future.
On Sunday, with Chad Bettis making his 8th career start, the Rockies decided to go with a game plan that involved using recently-activated Roy Oswalt in relief of Bettis after three innings. It didn't matter if Bettis was dealing, or getting rocked, the plan would be put into action.
After three scoreless innings, with just two hits, four strikeouts and no walks, Bettis left the game for a pinch hitter in the top of the 4th inning. The youngster who didn't throw a pitch at the Triple-A level was on his way to his first career victory. Instead, Oswalt came in to get his work in and try to show the Rockies or another team that he still has something left in the tank for another year.
Oswalt was fine until the 7th inning, where he allowed the Padres to load the bases without getting an out. After an out and a conversation with manager Walt Weiss, Oswalt stayed in the game, trying to induce an inning-ending double play. Instead, the veteran walked Jesus Guzman on four pitches, pushing the tying run across the plate.
At that point, Weiss made his way tot he mound and pointed for the right-hander Wilton Lopez. It was no surprise when Lopez immediately gave up a bases-clearing double, giving the Padres the lead and essentially the ballgame.
In a game that has very little patience, the Rockies show more than anyone could ever expect. After a season in which Lopez has pitched so poorly, so much worse than at any other point in his career, he continues to get the call in close games. It may be a situation where the Rockies want him to be impactful in 2014, but at some point, reality has to set it. Lopez has been awful.
What Sunday represented was the Rockies using a real live game to see what type of pitchers they have for 2014. The only problem with the way they carried it out is that they did it with the wrong pitchers. The pitcher who should be getting evaluation is the guy who started the game on the mound. The Rockies should already know what they have in Oswalt and Lopez. They don't need to see anymore of that. In fact, it is probably fair enough to suggest that Oswalt isn't good enough to be a part of a Rockies rotation that could use all the help they can get on the back end.
The Rockies have just three more chances to see what they have in Bettis. They have a chance to see if he is ready for the big league rotation in 2014 or if they need to address their need for a 5th starter via free agency. Bettis has talent, but has only shown flashes of an ability to get it done.
Sunday looked like Bettis was taking the next step. He was throwing his curveball for strikes, he was throwing his fastball for strikes, and appeared to have a confidence that he hasn't shown in his previous seven starts at the Major League level.
The Rockies are clearly in evaluation mode for 2014, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, they are going about it the wrong way. They continue to be intrigued by what Oswalt can bring to the team when he should be the last thing they are worried about.
This team continues to put faith in Lopez, when all he has done since Opening Day is proven to be a terrible addition to a team that desperately needed him to be at least decent.
The Rockies do need to evaluate their young players, but on Sunday, they showed Bettis that it was more important to use guys who have no future with the team and try desperately to make those moves look good.
It simply isn't helping the team be better for 2014.
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