The Rockies optioned left-handed pitcher Tyler Matzek to Triple-A Albuquerque today and have recalled Wilin Rosario will to take his place on the active roster, according to the Denver Post's Nick Groke.
With the memories of 2014 still fresh, the Matzek news is jarring. Last season, he threw 117.2 innings of ball with a 4.05 ERA and an ERA- of 95. Matzek didn't post world-beating numbers, to be sure, but those figures hovered just enough above average to be a real boon for the club in 2014. The real surprise was that he apparently fixed whatever it was that caused him to walk so many batters in during his minor league career—by far the worst mark was his 12.5 walks per nine he issued in 2011 while playing for Modesto. Matzek finished the 2014 walking 3.37 batters per nine for the Rockies. On a small scale, Matzek's worst control-game came on August 8 against Arizona, when he walked five batters in five innings. Otherwise, he walked four batters three times in his remaining 19 starts, and each of those starts saw him pitch more than five innings.
With the memories of Matzek's start against the Diamondbacks two days ago fresher yet, the move is less jarring. Something has gone awry with Matzek's control. Matzek walked six batters in five innings on April 21 against the Padres. But that was downright efficient compared to his two inning, six-walk, performance on Wednesday, when he threw just 20 of his 58 pitches for strikes. By optioning Matzek to Triple-A, the Rockies are indicating that they don't want Matzek to attempt to solve his control problems during a big league game.
Matzek has joined Eddie Butler and Kyle Kendrick as the Rockies starters with enough question marks to cause us to dwell on possible replacements. It's unclear as of now what the Rockies intend to do with the rotation. Because the Rockies are off on Monday, they don't necessarily need to bring up someone like David Hale or Chad Bettis to take Matzek's roster spot, although if they did it would signal that the team is willing to keep Matzek in Triple-A until his issues are fully resolved. The team also has the option to start Christian Bergman in Matzek's place. If Bergman moves from the bullpen to the rotation, the 'pen will still have seven arms.
Matzek would have gotten the start on Tuesday against the Angels. If he doesn't need any more than one Triple-A start, he could be back with the Rockies for a start on Saturday, May 16. Or, the Rockies might just go with a four man rotation until May 16 before calling on someone else. That might rely on how well Matzek pitches for the Isotopes. When he does make a start for the Isotopes, ignore hits and runs allowed and focus on walks and strikes thrown.
Rosario rejoins the team after a couple weeks with the Isotopes. While in New Mexico, he mashed a triple slash of .343/.361/.457 in 36 plate appearances. He'll be back just in time to face lefties Brett Anderson and Clayton Kershaw this weekend. If the rain doesn't win again, that is.