Throwing everybody a curveball on this Sunday afternoon. Having a mailbag on a Sunday might just be the new trend. As always, any inquiries can be sent to email@example.com or @BlakeSt_Bombers.
Dillon from Des Moines, Iowa writes: Rockies have the eighth pick of the MLB draft this season. Who do you think they will go with?
Cody Voga: The Rockies should be in prime position to pick up an excellent prospect at No. 8, Dillon. One guy I feel would help Colorado out in a big way would be Max Pentecost (C, Kennesaw State). With Wilin Rosario planning on moving to first in a couple of years, catcher will be a big need. Pentecost can fill that role as soon as the Rockies would need him.
Pentecost is hitting .424 with nine home runs and 57 RBI for the Owls, who are currently battling in the NCAA Regionals. The former seventh-round selection of the Texas Rangers would see an improved power surge if he plays his home games at Coors Field. Pentecost hits for average and does well behind the plate. The Rockies would hope he could turn into a defensive specialist, like Russell Martin.
Carl from Rome, Ga. writes: Will Colorado’s pitching staff ever figure it out? Or are we looking at some turnover come July?
Cody Voga: There’s a good chance we are going to see some changes soon, Carl. I believe calls to Tyler Matzek and Eddie Butler are imminent. Franklin Morales has proved once again why the Rockies ditched him a few years ago. It’s been five starts and we still don’t know if Jhoulys Chacin will get back to last year’s form. Those two, I would say, are in serious trouble to lose their jobs.
Matzek and Butler have been waiting in the wings for a couple of years now. Manager Walt Weiss has said that the only thing holding them back is Major League experience. How else do they get experience in the majors without pitching in the majors? That could be one subtle hint that the time will be coming.
Sadie from Osage Beach, Mo. writes: What’s the status on Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood? Can the Rockies get them back sooner than expected?
Cody Voga: If all things go as planned, Sadie, you might be seeing Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood pitch before the All-Star break.
Anderson is coming off of a surgery in which he had implanted pins removed from his left index finger. For him, it’s all about getting back into rhythm. Once he has gotten back into shape and can throw from a long distance, he will begin the rehab process. Gripping the baseball may be the biggest thing prolonging his comeback. With the index finger being an important tool in creating movement, it’s ideal to be 100 percent before pushing back into it.
Chatwood, who had a strained flexor tendon, has returned to playing catch at 75-plus feet. Building up stamina and getting back into the throwing program is what Chatwood needs to do before returning to Coors Field. I would anticipate a longer wait for Chatwood as he doesn’t want to have another flare-up in his elbow.
As nice as it would be to have them before the All-Star break, I think it would be best to sit these two until after July 15. If they are rushed back too early, they could be out for an extended period of time that could include the rest of the 2014 season.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss would be wise to keep his phone bill to a minimum when looking to fill that fifth spot in the rotation.
Franklin Morales is back down to earth after starting the season off so well. Morales has struggled in his last four outings, giving up at least four runs per start and has only thrown at least five innings only once. His next start against the Giants tonight (May 20) could be his last.
The upcoming schedule sets up nicely for a possible move to a four-man rotation of Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rose, Jordan Lyles and Juan Nicasio. After having an off day yesterday (May 19), the Rockies have two more coming soon on May 29 and June 2. These off-days come at crucial times in the rotation, allowing Weiss to consider dropping Morales out of the rotation and moving it to four, until Brett Anderson can return in mid-June.
Recent history has proven that it would benefit the Rockies a great deal to leave prospects such as Eddie Butler and Jon Gray down in the minors for as long as they can.
Since 2007, pitchers to be called up by the Rockies have been a very mixed bag, with most of them failures. Here is a look at who has been shot through the mountains and onto Coors Field:
2007 – Jason Hirsh, Franklin Morales
2008 – Greg Reynolds
2009 – Jhoulys Chacin, Esmil Rogers
2010 – Samuel Deduno, Greg Smith
2011 – Juan Nicasio
2012 – Tyler Chatwood, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White
2013 – Chad Bettis
Of that list provided, only five of those pitchers are still with the Rockies. Chacin is the one exception to this notion because he has proved to be a solid top-end, rotation guy, logging an ERA of 3.64 and starting 14 or more games in five of his first six seasons.
Chatwood and Nicasio have shown flashes of greatness, but remain question marks upon not only durability, but also consistency. Both right-handed hurlers have a career ERA over 4.30 and have made 15 or more starts only three times out of a possible eight seasons.
How do these pitchers compare to the dynamic duo that promises to be Butler and Gray?
Butler has shown that he is willing to adjust as he progresses through the minors. He started his first season playing rookie ball for the Casper Ghosts, finishing 7-1 with an ERA of 2.13 and 55 strikeouts. Since then, the former first-round pick has seen his strikeout totals go down, but the ERA has plateaued at 2.68 this season in Double-A with the Tulsa Drillers. He has left over 78 percent of the baserunners he has put on right where they stand. Sound like anybody you know? This guy has the Chacin makeup written all over him (hopefully minus the 2014 season we are witnessing from the Rockies ace).
Gray has me psyched, but cautious at the same time. I’m fully aware of the hype that surrounds the 2013 No. 3 overall pick. He has been the best player on his team, dating back to his days as an Oklahoma Sooner. I don’t know if there is a player on the current roster that can relate to the skill set that Gray has, as well as how he pitches the game. He has gone on record saying how badly he wants to contribute to the team this season, but that may not be the best option for the Rockies. He got off to a very slow start with the Drillers, going only 6.2 innings in his first two starts. I saw a guy trying to force the issue, wanting to make his big league debut so badly that he didn’t want to focus on improving his game. Since those two audacious starts in early April, Gray has calmed down and dominated the competition, giving up only five earned runs and striking out 32 in his last six starts.
If we get another pitcher like Chacin in Butler and if Gray can remain patient and hope for a chance in 2015, the Rockies may have struck gold. As it pertains to this season, filling out that fifth spot in the rotation will come once Chatwood and Anderson come back from their stints on the DL.
Until then, let’s hope Weiss leaves his farm system alone.
Hoping you all had a safe and enjoyable Easter weekend. If you are already sick of hearing Pitbull rap about the NBA Playoffs (excuse me, PLAYOFFS!) like I am, then I have just the cure: let’s do a mailbag. As always, any inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or @Purple_Mondays.
With that said, let’s jump right into it.
Dylan from Stockton, Calif. writes: Being in the NL West where some of the best pitching staffs in baseball exist (and that being a glaring weakness for the Rockies), do you see Colorado making any significant moves to help them compete?
Cody Voga: Great question, Dylan. I think the biggest thing holding the Rockies back is not having a bona fide ace. Young, power arms such as Jordan Lyles, Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler should develop into solid rotation pitchers, but all have a few knocks on their game. Jhoulys Chacin, currently the best arm on the staff, is rehabbing a shoulder injury that he injured early in Spring Training.
As for potential moves? I see one that would cost a pretty penny. Chris Sale of the White Sox would be the best option. The hard-throwing, deceptive southpaw is only 25 and has a career ERA of 2.93 in the AL. He has also lowered his WHIP the past three seasons to an astounding .841 which is fourth in the AL and 10th in the MLB.
He is stuck in an unfortunate situation as his team is a few years from competing. In order to get him the Rockies would need to unload at least two of their top five prospects. That can include any combination of Gray, Butler or shortstop Rosell Herrera who has shown flashes of brilliance.
Ron from Norfolk, Neb. writes: It’s early in the season, but do you think CarGo has a legit shot to be the NL MVP?
Cody Voga: Wouldn’t that be nice, Ron? If he can get back to 2010 form, I don’t see any doubt at all. His biggest competition may be his own teammate, Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon has emerged since the Dexter Fowler trade, hitting .426 with 10 RBI already on the season from the leadoff spot. Are you kidding me?! This guy needs some love!
Getting back to CarGo, he has had some tough luck as of late. He had multiple hits taken away from him by some outstanding defense from the Padres and Giants on the last six-day road trip. CarGo still owns a .286 batting average, which should improve after a few more games inside the friendly confines of Coors Field. He is coming off of back-to-back seasons in which he won a Gold Glove and was voted an All-Star, so I think the voting is out there. Just waiting for him to break out.
Kelsey from Arvada, Colo. writes: When Jonathan Gray gets the call-up, who from the rotation will get bounced?
Cody Voga: That is a tough one, Kelsey. Due to the Chacin injury, there have been two spots that have been at stake so far this season. When it is all said and done, I believe the rotation will be Chacin, Anderson, Chatwood, Lyles and Gray.
Gray will have to get it figured out as he has struggled mightily in Double-A ball for the Tulsa Drillers. The No. 12 overall prospect according to Baseball America is 1-1 with an ERA of 6.57. He has a devastating slider and can heat it up to 100 miles per hour, but has struggled with his command. Once he gets it all together, the rest of baseball had better watch out.
The odd men out would be Franklin Morales, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio. Morales would serve as a great long relief pitcher out of the ‘pen, while de la Rosa and Nicasio would most likely be used as trade chips. It’s hard to imagine either of them being bullpen specialties, but it would give the Rockies the best chance to win.