88, 98, 90, 99, and 81...the number of pitches thrown by Rockies' starters in the last five games. Despite all having decent outings with less than three earned runs in each game, the Colorado starting pitchers were not allowed to surpass 100 pitches in each of their last outings. Jordan Lyles' had the worst start of the group, giving up three earned runs in five innings while, last night, Tyler Chatwood was pulled after only needing 88 pitches to get through seven innings with zero earned runs.
This 'overmanaging' by Walt Weiss is now a trend and I am not in favor of it. While I was slightly intrigued two years ago by the piggyback option, if the team is going to have a traditional five man rotation then the starters need to be used like starters in order for the bullpen to be effective.
I understand that this is Tyler Chatwood's second game back after a leg injury, but he threw only two less pitches in his lone rehab start then he did last night. Was he going to get a complete game? Probably not due to some bad luck when an error from his infield cost him an additional seven pitches and an unearned run, but an eighth inning would have allowed him to stretch his arm further. If pitchers don't get the chance to throw 100 to 105 pitches when they are going strong, will they ever?
Prior to last night, the Rockies averaged three relief pitchers per game over the last week, so using only two last night was a bit of a break for the bullpen. However, the team is having to use their bullpen to eat up innings instead of matching up against the opposition and that is not a recipe for success. Extra innings now for starters, in my opinion makes them stronger, while extra innings for relievers this early in the year will wear the bullpen down.
It is still April and Walt Weiss may yet buck this trend, but it is a common theme from last year that has continued into this season. Hopefully, the Rockies' starting rotation will continue it's strong start and give him the confidence to use the bullpen when he wants to instead of when he thinks he needs to.