ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 12: Reliever Edgmer Escalona #61 of the Colorado Rockies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 12, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Rockies 6-1. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Sometime in the next few weeks, we'll review the seasons of the two major leaguers that the Rockies received in return for Ubaldo Jimenez (Drew Pomeranz, Alex White). However, today, we'll look at the seasons of two guys who stepped in for Jimenez at different points (and in different capacities) during the 2011 season.
With Jimenez on the DL following his disastrous Opening Day start, the Rockies found themselves in need of a spot starter following a long road trip as a way to avoid taxing their rotation arms so early in the season. As such, on April 17th, the Rockies called upon Alan Johnson to start the series finale at home against the Chicago Cubs. The Rockies were looking to win their third straight series during a scorching start to 2011, so Johnson's debut certainly wasn't a trivial one.
As expected, Johnson wasn't dominant by any stretch of the imagination, but he fought his way through four innings while keeping his team in the game. He allowed four earned runs on six hits and three walks in those four frames, while striking out three batters. His team was down by a run when he exited, but the Rox were able to come back and win the game, improving their record to 12-3. Following the game, Johnson was sent back down to AAA, where he remained for the rest of the season and posted a 5-11 record with a 7.43 ERA.
Edgmer Escalona made his season debut on July 1st, but he's been pigeonholed into this category because he was the guy who replaced Jimenez on the roster following the deadline deal. The 25 year old Venezuelan played a very important role during his first full month with the club, too, as he was the team's de facto long reliever during the dog days of August (including, in another twist of fate, replacing Juan Nicasio after he was hit with a line drive on August 5th). He wasn't too shabby at it, either, as he posted a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings across five appearances. Consequently, the extra work might have taken its toll on the young reliever, as he went on the DL on August 23rd with a shoulder injury.
Upon his return, roster expansion allowed the Rockies to place Escalona back into a more traditional middle relief role, as six of his final seven appearances lasted only one inning. He finished the season with good numbers - a 1.75 ERA in 25.2 innings. Although his strikeout totals were below average (just 4.5 K/9) and showed some fairly extreme flyball tendencies, he kept his walks down (2.5 BB/9) and was able to generally keep opposing bats in check.
Grades, as well as what to expect from both players in 2012, after the jump...
Johnson: C. Although he was hit around, the Rockies were victorious in his lone start. Besides, what did you really expect? I would've graded him higher, but he never netted us Roy Halladay, which was his sole purpose in this organization.
Escalona: B+. While the Rockies were still somewhat in contention in August, Escalona was at his best in terms of his importance in the bullpen. He was able to take quite a few innings off of the crumbling rotation's shoulders, and really was even better (from a sheer numbers perspective) outside of the long relief role.
Alan Johnson declared minor league free agency on November 4th. He has yet to re-sign with the Rockies, or sign on with any other team for that matter. The Pleasant Grove High School (UT) graduate likely won't appear in another major league game.
Meanwhile, Edgmer Escalona is a darkhorse candidate for a spot in the Rockies bullpen for 2012. However, because he still has one option remaining, he'll most likely start the season in AAA. In addition to his option status, Escalona has exhibited some disciplinary issues while playing in the Dominican during this offseason, which is a little bit of a red flag considering he's had these problems before and he plays for an organization that generally frowns upon these types of things. Still, he's got good stuff and has shown the ability to succeed at the highest level, so there's a good chance that he'll stick in the big leagues for quite a few years once he's out of options.