So let's imagine for a moment that something happens to one of our starters, I don't know, say Aaron Cook suddenly comes down with a disease like meetabal pitchitis or Jason Hammel has a pull in his throagadumstrych tendon. Well, this is just a hypothetical, but we seem to be well insured in these events, you know, just in case. Jhoulys Chacin had a dominant start on Sunday in Colorado Springs, Esmil Rogers followed suit with perhaps a just as spectacular performance yesterday before his bullpen gave the game away, while a level lower, Christian Friedrich showed that he seems to be over his own brief affliction with that hypothetical Cook disease.
Adding in Ethan Hollingsworth's excellent work in Modesto gives us two straight days of fabulous starts in the system, for Monday the aggregate line of the starting pitchers was 17 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 21 K. For the past two days combined, starters in the Rockies system have given up a total of four runs in 42.1 IP for an ERA of 0.85, with an astonishing WHIP of 0.69 and 43 K's. The system is far from depleted when it comes to arms.
I promise I'll get to posting the PuRPs polling thread this afternoon.
Colorado Springs: L 8-9
The Rockies were cautious not to push Esmil Rogers too hard in his first Sky Sox start after his short stint as long reliever with the big league team. In his five innings of work, he allowed just one hit, zero runs, walked none and struck out four with a 7-3 GO/AO rate. There's not much more the team could ask for, well besides for Shane Lindsay and Edgmer Escalona to give him a bit more help in relief. Each of those latter two pitchers gave up four runs, Lindsay in just a third of an inning, Escalona in a full inning, with Jimmy Gobble allowing one more to score (besides the two inherited runners he let get home from Lindsay) in between the two.
In some good news for the Sky Sox offense, Eric Young Jr. finally showed signs of waking out of his early season slump with a three for four night, he also walked once, stole his first base of the season and scored twice. Travis Metcalf had a pair of hits, including a two run home run as part of a four run rally in the bottom of the ninth to help draw the Sky Sox back within a run, but the rally was ultimately killed when Michael McKenry grounded out with runners on the corners to end the game.
Tulsa: W 4-1
4-7, 3 GB
Christian Friedrich was only so-so through his first two starts of the season, but yesterday's five inning, eight strikeout, one walk, five hit start was more typical of the type of effectiveness we've seen from him in Asheville and Modesto. It started in the first inning when he struck out the side in order. 54 of 78 pitches he threw were for strikes, and while his 1/5 GO/AO looks a little discouraging, it is a bit deceiving as three of the five hits were on the ground (all five were singles), and a few of the fly outs were of the typically harmless pop-up variety. In all, he allowed just three line drives and solid contact on only a couple of other occasions.
Kiel Roling and Jeff Kindel both finished with three hits, and both homered off of Missions reliever Evan Scribner in a three run eighth inning to break a one to one tie and ultimately give the Drillers the victory. For Roling, it was his first extra base hit of the season after seven singles and the two run homer also gave him his first two RBI of 2010. It was Kindel's second HR of the season. Jason Van Kooten hit a pair of doubles while Wilin Rosario went zero for four with two more K's. In the kind of streak we don't want to see, Rosario has struck out at least once in each of his eight games this year.
Modesto: W 5-1
7-4, 0.5 GB
Ethan Hollingsworth gets lost in the rest of the Rockies pitching talent, but I think everybody has to admit that the guy is becoming more impressive with each passing season. Yesterday he pitched seven innings against a ballyhooed Texas affiliate, getting nine K's while walking one and allowing just three hits, one for extra bases.
Once described by one of our more quality posters who saw him at Casper as unimpressive and "a fourth round whiff" by the organization in 2008, he's still likely no better than a number four or five pitcher in an MLB rotation at his peak, but he hasn't veered from that ceiling and seems more likely to be able to provide MLB help to a staff now than he has in the past. While I'm being all self-congratulatory and calling out other users for missing on Hollingsworth, I should probably plan to at some point in the next month revisit stories like this of mine from past drafts to see how my own so called expertise is stacking up.
Without digging too deeply into things, I think most of the NL West is probably at least somewhat satisfied with their 2008 draft performance thus far, with Arizona the notable laggard. I think Los Angeles's draft (as is typical with their system under Logan White) is looking a lot better now than it did on draft day and possibly rises to the top in the division with Dee Gordon, Ethan Martin and Josh Lindblom. San Diego has seen solid results from most of their top picks, namely Jaff Decker, Logan Forsythe and James Darnell, and the Rockies and Giants each have one near certain quality MLB player (Buster Posey for SF, Friedrich for CO) and a few open questions after that.
I mentioned in passing yesterday how I've been impressed with Modesto's command of the strike zone both with pitchers and hitters, yesterday was another good example as the Nuts outwalked Bakersfield six to one. Maikol Gonzalez and Jordan Pacheco drew two BB's apiece. As a result, Blaze pitchers had to face 36 Nuts in eight innings (4.5/IP) compared to just 34 (3.8/IP) in nine innings for Nuts pitchers. If you get that much more traffic aboard and give your bats that much more opportunity to hit, runs are likely to follow. Of course, you can't just walk to win games, Brian Rike and Ben Paulsen each did their jobs as run producers with multiple hit days. Rike hit his second HR of the season and drove in three of the Nuts four runs.
The game was postponed due to an irrigation system break creating unsafe playing conditions in West Virginia. Since it happened on getaway day, the Tourists' game with the Power will now become one of those rare "road" games that they get to play at their home park when the two teams meet again at McCormick Field in June.