Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss will give the ball to free-agent pickup Kyle Kendrick on Opening Day and save ace Jorge De La Rosa for the first home game of 2015, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding.
The decision to hold De La Rosa for the home opener makes sense on a few different levels. First, the veteran left-hander got a late start to the spring because of groin tightness, though it appears he's ready to let it fly after a successful debut in the desert in a "B" game on Sunday. Putting De La Rosa in that spot also offers the Rockies -- as Ryan Freemyer wrote over the weekend -- the opportunity to maximize his starts at Coors Field, where he has been one of the best pitchers ever to step foot on the mound.
The Kendrick decision, on the other hand, boy -- where to start ...
It's a defensible choice for Weiss to tab the 30-year-old right-hander as his Opening Day starter considering the logic behind pushing De La Rosa back coupled with the team's other options in the rotation. Jordan Lyles and Tyler Matzek, for as promising as they looked in 2014, might not be as well suited to handle the pressure of Opening Day as a guy like Kendrick, who pitched in some big spots during his time with the Philadelphia Phillies.
In that respect, it's fairly easy to see why Weiss and the Rockies picked Kendrick. But we're also talking about a pitcher who has been worse on the road than he has at home in his career. His longtime home park, Citizen's Bank Park, isn't exactly a haven for pitchers, so that should tell you something about Kendrick's performance away from there.
What's worse is that Jhoulys Chacin should be a no-brainer for this situation. Chacin entered last season with a sub-3.00 ERA away from Coors Field and pitched well as the club's Opening Day starter in Milwaukee in 2013. What this decision tells us is that Chacin may not be fully healthy entering 2015. That's doubly scary.
I should clarify that a health issue with Chacin is pure speculation at this point, and that it's possible the Rockies just don't want him to be too amped up coming off an injury in a game that would be his first since last June. But reports on his velocity this spring have been discouraging at best and foretelling of a big problem at worst.
The Brewers will counter on Opening Day with Kyle Lohse, who posted a 3.54 ERA/94 ERA- last season. By comparison, Kendrick finished 2014 with a 4.61 ERA/126 ERA-. The latter figure was second-worst among all qualified National League starters, behind only Travis Wood of the Chicago Cubs.