Rockies vs. Dodgers Spring Training Preview: Jordan Lyles looks to improve 5th starter bid

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Lyles, locked in a battle with Franklin Morales to break camp with the Rockies in place of an injured Jhoulys Chacin, takes the mound today against a tough Dodgers lineup.

I'm predisposed to dislike Jordan Lyles. I know it isn't fair to Jordan - he sounds like a good guy and has been nothing but impressive so far in spring. It's just that the specter of the Dexter Fowler trade will hang over Lyles as long as he's a Rockie, just as it did with Drew Pomeranz. The fact that Lyles was below replacement level in each of the last three years in Houston certainly didn't help either.

Slowly but surely however, one good spring outing at a time, I'm getting over to my preconceived dislike of Lyles. He's shown the ability to attack the strike zone and really go after hitters, something that Pomeranz was never able to do with any consistency. In three spring outings, Lyles has gone eight innings and allowed just one earned run on eight hits, striking out seven and walking one. In addition to that SSS success, he's only 23 this year. He doesn't have the raw stuff that Tyler Chatwood possesses, but there are certainly similarities in the situations of the two pitchers.

Despite that, I'm still leaning towards Franklin Morales winning the roster spot this spring for a few reasons. The primary reason is that Morales will probably be on the team regardless given that he doesn't have any minor league options remaining. When Chacin comes back from injury, Morales can be slotted right back into the bullpen as the long man. Meanwhile, it would then be easy enough to option Lyles to AAA where he can continue to develop as a starter.

In addition to that, I really want to see if Morales can take this starting chance and run with it. His stuff is such that if he can figure it out, Morales has mid-rotation starter upside. Not saying that this is likely, but why not give him a couple of chances to prove himself? Either way, I'm excited to see that the Rockies have a couple of legitimate back-end starter injury replacements.

This game's on MLB Network today, so you can root on a Rockies team that has quite a few regulars in the lineup.

Lineups

Rockies

The Rockies will have quite a few depth options in the lineup this afternoon. In addition to Lyles on the mound, we'll probably also see Matt Belisle, LaTroy Hawkins, Wilton Lopez, and Rob Scahill.

Dodgers

This looks pretty darn close to LA's projected Opening Day lineup, so it will really be a good challenge for Jordan.

Game thread will be posted at 2 MDT.

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