Monday, May 19, 2014

The time draws near for big decisions from the Colorado Rockies

It may be time for the Rockies to give Tyler Matzek his shot.
I make a habit to not glean too much from the standings until Memorial Day.

For all intents and purposes, it really isn't worth the time. It might be fun to watch how a certain team is doing, but to make arguments for or against a team's postseason hopes is semantics in April and May. The reality is, every year there are teams that start hot and there are teams that start cold. Barring a few exceptions, by the end of May, the cream has usually risen to the top.

For Colorado Rockies fans, avoiding the temptation to check out the standings every night and see if the Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Padres lost might be fun, but there isn't a ton of information to be taken from it. The D-Backs may be the one exception, as they were a team slotted to do really well and have simply looked horrible in the early-going.

With that in mind, the time is quickly arriving where the standings will mean something, and unless the Rockies suddenly lose six games in a row, the odds are that it is time to have legitimate conversations about whether or not this team can contend or not. That certainly doesn't mean that they will contend, but it does mean that talking about them as contenders is something that shouldn't be followed by a laugh.

After hot starts in each of the past three seasons, Rockies fans are still skeptics. Some have hopped on board the bandwagon, but others are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who can blame them?

With the Rockies three games back of the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants, the Rockies are at the point where they will either fade away, or continue to get better and become true contenders throughout the summer.

Memorial Day is a week away and the Rockies are in the thick of it. However, if they want to be contenders, they have some major leaks in their ship that need to be fixed. The back end of the starting rotation is the first place they should begin working.

Many baseball fans advocate improvement through trades. They may see a name out there who is available, last year it was Matt Garza, this year the early name being floated is Jeff Samardzija, and they want the Rockies to go no-holds-barred and trade away the farm system for the shot at a guy like that. While prospects are called prospects for a reason, the idea of trading away two players with immense talent, whose ceilings are as high as anyone in the game is a bit ridiculous. Just two years ago, many fans were bantered about offering up Nolan Arenado for better pitching. Hindsight would suggest any move of Arenado would have been a bad one.

Without a trade, what are the options? Ask the fans and the quickest answers are to call up Jon Gray and Eddie Butler. Of course this might be the best answer as well. Gray is 8-2 in his short minor league career and has 89 strikeouts to 15 walks in just short of 80 innings. The only issue is that he has just 80 minor league innings under his belt.

Butler is a little different story. He has nearly 270 minor league innings logged and has similar splits, with 229 strikeouts to 79 walks.

So should the Rockies call those guys up? The answer is probably not. They might be the right guys for the job, but there are enough solid starting pitchers on the farm that there shouldn't be a huge sense of urgency to essentially take the redshirts off of your top two prospects in order to rush them into the league.

The Rockies answer should still come internally, but with a few names that either no one has heard of, or everyone has forgotten about. Remember Tyler Matzek? The Rockies were thrilled when they drafted the lefty throwing mid-90's out of high school in 2009. The last most heard from Matzek was when he was on a plane back to California to try and get himself right. He was throwing in the 80's and walking three batters to everyone that he struck out. It became a mental issue as much as physical.

After everyone forgot about Matzek, he matured into a pretty decent minor league pitcher. He hasn't been exceptionally great, but he was the starter in last season's Double-A All-Star Game. That alone should be enough to earn some respect. So far in 2014 in Colorado Springs, Matzek has averaged one strikeout per inning and he is cutting his walks back as well. He might be a good option, not necessarily as a stop-gap, but more in regards to being a guy who it wouldn't hurt to give a chance to right now, and if it doesn't work out, sending back to Colorado Springs.

The other option the Rockies should consider is Christian Bergman. The right-hander just came off a 21 inning scoreless stretch. He has flown under the radar because he was a 20th round draft pick, however, his stats suggest that he might deserve his shot at the big league level.

The fact is, the Rockies are a week away from being able to declare themselves legitimate contenders. They are a solid week away from being able to claim that a home-heavy June will allow them to potentially watch the fireworks fly on the 4th of July in first place in the NL West.

If the Rockies are serious about winning now, a bold move will have to come shortly.

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1 comment:

  1. I personally think the guy most ready now is Dan Winkler. This is his 2nd stint in AA ball and is currently sporting a 1.48 ERA with a WHIP of 0.74 and he strikes out 4 times the number he walks.
    I don't get why his name is never mentioned with the other top prospects as up to this point he has out-pitched them all.

    I am sure the Rockies are waiting for the time to pass so that there top prospects don't get there arb eligible clock started a year earlier. I believe they have to wait until the 3rd week of June or so.

    Bergman would fit the profile to bring up ahead of clock since he is already 26 where the others are all around 23.

    If I had to take a guess, I am sure they are trying to get by with what they have until late June. The recent outings of both Nicasio and Morales should indicate otherwise as both are better suited in the pen and could shore up that area.