The Colorado Rockies have gotten off to a better start this year than all but the most optimistic of fans could have predicted. Heading into tonight’s game with the Cincinnati Reds , Colorado is sitting on a record of 31-28. Predicted by nearly everyone to finish in fourth or fifth place in the National League West, the Rockies are currently tied with the San Francisco Giants for second place in the division.
One of the reasons that Colorado has been able to exceed expectations this year has been their pitching staff. Jorge De La Rosa has been a godsend for a pitching staff that was overwhelmed in 2012. De La Rosa missed virtually all of last season after having Tommy John surgery but has been the leader of the starting rotation this year — his seven wins leads the team. Tyler Chatwood has been one of the most surprisingly effective pitchers in the National League this year, with an ERA of just 2.14 in almost 34 innings.
The bullpen has also gone from a glaring weakness to a strength for the Rockies. Rex Brothers is quietly becoming an elite late-inning reliever and has a microscopic 0.35 ERA. Between Brothers, Adam Ottovino, and the constantly underrated Matt Belisle (who was the only reliable reliever on this team for years), the Rockies have an advantage over most teams in the later innings of close games.
The Rockies aren’t really doing anything differently on offense this year. The difference has been their pitching staff, which has gone from “unmitigated disaster” to merely “average”. However, those who have followed the Rockies’ moves over the last few seasons have to be wondering what this team might look like with Drew Pomeranz added to the rotation.
On the first day of August in 2011, the Rockies made one of the biggest trades in franchise history, sending their ace at the time, Ubaldo Jimenez, to the Cleveland Indians.
The trade, so far at least, hasn’t really worked out for either team. Jimenez has been one of the most inconsistent starters in the major leagues since the trade, Alex White is now a Houston Astro and is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and Matt McBride and Joe Gardner both look unlikely to become much more than Triple-A players. As for Pomeranz, he is currently the ace for Colorado… Springs.
Pomeranz is having a good year for the Triple-A Sky Sox with a 6-1 record so far. His strikeout numbers are up and his walks are down which is the telltale sign of a young pitcher who is starting to figure things out. Pomeranz is now 24 years old and in his third season of professional baseball. While he is still young, it’s worth pointing out that Matt Harvey and Chris Sale were both college pitchers selected in the 2010 draft after Pomeranz, and their age has not exactly stopped them from achieving at the major league level.
This would all be a moot point if the Rockies didn’t have a spot to put Pomeranz. But at the moment I’m writing this paragraph, Jon Garland is currently one inning into his start tonight against the Reds and has already allowed four runs. Garland hasn’t recorded a win since May 4th and hasn’t had a quality start in even longer. He is owed just $500,000 from now until the rest of the year and is not signed through next season. The Rockies have won just one of Garland’s last eight games.
There is simply very little reason that Pomeranz should be in Triple-A while Garland is getting pounded in the majors. Colorado needs to find out what they have in Drew Pomeranz, and there is no way to do that while he’s pitching against the Grizzlies and the Beavers instead of the Giants and the Padres. Jon Garland can be moved to the bullpen where he could serve as a better long reliever than what the Rockies currently have in Josh Outman.
Is Pomeranz going to be as good as Matt Harvey or Chris Sale? Probably not, but the only thing we know for sure is that he’ll never get that good while he’s in Colorado Springs instead of Denver.