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Thursday Rockpile: Where does the rotation go from here?

Who stays and who goes at the back end of the Rockies' rotation?


After a great offensive showing last night against Cincinnati, it is a great baseball day for the Colorado Rockies as they have the number three pick in the draft and Jhoulys Chacin leads the team back home to face the suddenly relevant San Diego Padres. Purple Row has plenty of good draft coverage ready for you here and here, so today's Rockpile will focus instead on an upcoming difficult decision for Rockies management.

As I wrote in last night's game wrap, last night may have been John Garland's last start for the Colorado Rockies. If it was, he showed the team and fans both the worst (in the first inning) and the best (one hit shutout the other five innings) cases for keeping him on the team. On last year's team, Garland would be hailed as a crafty veteran and an anchor in the rotation as he takes the ball every fifth day and gives a consistent start. However, on this year's team, he may be the odd man out. With the news that Tyler Chatwood is likely to miss only one start and Jeff Francis getting healthy, there may not be enough spots in the rotation for John Garland to stay with the team.

The Rockies will likely need to bring a starter in to take Chatwood's place this weekend. No matter who that is, the team is also likely to keep Chatwood off the DL if he can make a start in the next seven days. Assuming Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Tyler Chatwood are the top three starters, here is who the Rockies have to decide between for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.

Juan Nicasio 4-2 4.76 ERA

Juan has been in the rotation all year and keeps going between acceptable fourth starter and future bullpen player. His lack of a good third pitch has been thoroughly discussed, but his potential is still such that the Rockies have kept him up with the big league team. At only 26, I hope the Rockies have a long term plan to develop him and make him a long term starter for this team. Perhaps teaching him a split-fingered fastball in the offseason would give him the repertoire to fool hitters the third time through the rotation.

Jeff Francis 2-3 6.00 ERA

Jeff was what the team needed last year, but many were concerned about keeping him around this year. After an excellent debut in the home opener, he had a mostly forgettable season prior to going on the disabled list. His rehab starts haven't shown a great improvement and so I don't know what his future is with the team. The counter to this is that he is ready to come of the disabled list and the Rockies need someone to start in Tyler's place Saturday.

Jon Garland 4-6 5.82 ERA

At this point in his career, it looks like Jon will give five to six innings, allowing four to five runs every time he takes the mound. He may still improve slightly as he gets more comfortable with the team, but he isn't what he used to be. Hurting him is the fact that Francis is a long time Rockie and they both give the team about the same chance of winning.

Drew Pomeranz 6-1 4.26 ERA (AAA)

After going 2-9 in 22 starts for the Rockies last year, the team has wanted to make sure Drew is ready prior to bringing him up to the majors for what they hope is the rest of his career. Unfortunately, he has had three of his worst starts in the season in his last three outings for Colorado Springs. However, with the team needing one start, he may get the opportunity this weekend.

Roy Oswalt 2-1 3.50 ERA (AA)

In what could be the best free agent move for the Rockies this year, they brought in Oswalt for this exact scenario. He could be the best option of the old three (Francis, Garland, Oswalt) but he struggled as part of the Rangers staff last year. The original plan was to get him five to seven starts in the minors, but he has options to leave the team soon if he is not promoted and the need for a spot start could force the Rockies hand.


With Juan Nicasio's recent surge it does not seem likely that he will be sent down soon. Assuming that Chatwood is able to resume his spot after this weekend, that leaves the number five spot open between whomever the Rockies bring in for the spot start and Garland. I look forward to reading your thoughts on the question and response to the poll below.

Other News

In case you missed it, Cargo and Tulo went off against the Reds last night. Unfortunately, the Astros also had six home runs so the Rockies are one of two teams that hit this well last night.

Former Rockie Jason Marquis had a great night for the Padres, glad the Rockies won't face him in the four game series this weekend. He is 7-2 on the season, trying to bring his playoff magic to San Diego.

Off Topic.