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Colorado Rockies RHP David Hale could miss time with oblique injury

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Entering Tuesday, four pitchers were fighting for two rotation spots. Now, things are getting all sorts of crazy.

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First, it was Jhoulys Chacin. Then, it was Jorge De La Rosa. Now, potential rotation replacement David Hale has gone down for the count.

What was that line in our Colorado Rockies season preview about improved rotation depth?

Hale's latest scheduled Cactus League appearance was pushed back while the right-hander deals with a strained oblique, according to Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Hale was likely the favorite to replace Chacin in the rotation, leaving only one spot up for grabs while De La Rosa continues to nurse a groin injury. Now, the Rockies are back to having two openings.

At the end of the De La Rosa article, I ranked -- in order of probability -- the contingency options for the Rockies' rotation. Hale was first on that list, but with the nature of his injury, he could be out a month or so, though that's just speculation at this point. That would leave Eddie Butler and Christian Bergman, who kept the Chicago White Sox off the board for four innings on Tuesday, as the likely replacements.

Jon Gray, Chad Bettis and John Lannan are also likely in the mix, but Gray should be the very last option on that list due to service time reasons. I'll have more on that later, via SB Nation MLB. In the meantime, here's a snippet:

Since free-agency eligibility requires six full seasons, a player can be shorted a full season of service time at any point in his career and wind up spending more than six actual years under team control. This is where players like Bryant, Gray and Pomeranz would be affected. In the case of the two former players, their clubs would likely wait until 171 days are remaining in the season before adding them to the active roster. That way, the player will have accrued 0.171 -- and not 1.000 -- years of service time. Assuming Bryant and Gray remain in the big leagues for the entirety of their years under team control, they wouldn't become free agents until they reach 6.171 years of service time as opposed to 5.171 (or five full years plus 171 days).

Also on the injury front, utility infielders Charlie Culberson and Daniel Descalso continue to deal with injuries that, at this point, could open the door for Brandon Barnes and Rafael Ynoa -- or perhaps even Cristhian AdamesMLB.com's Thomas Harding writes -- to make the club out of spring training. You might be thinking, "Barnes was a lock anyway, wasn't he?" But that isn't necessarily the case; Rockies manager Walt Weiss has expressed his desire to start the season with an eight-man bullpen and also wants to try to fit three catchers onto the roster.

I don't know how Weiss is going to accomplish all of that, but one thing the club could do is start the regular season with only four starting pitchers. An off day on the first Thursday of the season means the Rockies wouldn't need a fifth starter until around Game No. 7, which is the following Tuesday in San Francisco.

Weiss and his staff certainly have their work cut out for them, regardless of what they decide. It wouldn't be Rockies baseball any other way.

Links

Trying To Optimize The Rockies Rotation For Coors Field | FanGraphs Baseball
Mike Petriello takes Ryan Freemyer's idea about maximizing Jorge De La Rosa's Coors Field starts and expands it to the entire rotation. DLR has more home starts, Kendrick has more road starts and just about everyone else is even -- including Jon Gray, whom Petriello predicts will be with the big club in late June.

Player Development with Zach Wilson | Rockies Zingers Colorado Rockies Baseball
J.J. Buck has an excellent interview with Rockies director of player development Zach Wilson, who provides quotes on pitching at altitude, compiling depth and challenging talented prospects.