The current Rockies starting rotation is far from good. Luckily, the Rockies have some solid young arms to look forward to next year. Whether it’s a promotion from the minor leagues or a return from an injury, the Rockies have potential to have one of the better rotations in team history in 2016. Assuming there’s no major injuries or setbacks—naturally.
Let’s take a look at what possibilities the Rockies have from within the organization.
Jon Gray is still in Triple-A, but I fully expect to see him pitching every fifth game for the Rockies next season. Since May 2, Gray has thrown 81 2/3 innings over 14 starts with an ERA of 3.53. He's struck out 73 while walking 27 over that stretch. A concern the Rockies might have is his inability to go deeper into games and limit his pitch count. Gray has pitched more than six innings just twice in those 14 starts. It's still possible Gray will get his call up before this season ends. A cup of coffee late in the season should be beneficial for Gray and the Rockies to prepare him for major league hitters in 2016.
Jorge De La Rosa
There’s not a whole lot to say about De La Rosa. He’s the Rockies best pitcher. He's gone 75-49 with an ERA of 4.21 in eight seasons with the Rockies, and he's only gotten better as time has gone along, going 36-21 with an ERA of 3.90 since 2013. De La Rosa, who will be 35 on April 5 of next year, will be the veteran of the staff. He has had extremely successful results at Coors Field and will be able to help out the young arms around him.
At this time last year, I wasn't even sure I wanted Bettis in the Rockies organization. In 37 games from 2013 to 2014, he had an ERA of 6.88 over 69 1/3 innings. The Rockies attempted to make him a reliever, but they put him back in a starter role in 2015, and he has looked great. Bettis is 5-4 with an ERA of 4.88, but if you take away one 10-run outing, he has an ERA of 3.80. I was skeptical of Bettis' ability to be a productive starter, but since his 10-run blowup, he's thrown back-to-back quality starts. I'm starting to believe Bettis is the real deal and believe he can be a solid member of the 2016 rotation.
Chatwood is still somewhat of a question mark, seeing as he hasn’t pitched in a game since April of 2014. Chatwood is currently working his way back from a second Tommy John surgery, but he should be able to make some appearances in September. It's hard to pencil in Chatwood already for the 2016 rotation, but if he can look anything like he did in 2013, where he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA over 111 1/3 innings, it will be a huge boost to the 2016 staff.
Eddie Butler is getting his second chance with the MLB club this year. He will need to put together a strong second-half if he wants to find his way into the rotation next year. Butler has struggled getting deep into games with the Rockies in 2015, mostly due to his control issues. He has walked 30 batters and struck out just 29 in 54 1/3 innings. Butler has spent the last two months in Triple-A, and hasn't looked much better. It's surprising to see him back up already due to his performance, but if he can start to string together some quality starts, he could be an effective arm in the 2016 rotation.
Longshots to make the rotation to start 2016
Jordan Lyles didn't have a great 2015, making just 10 starts before having season-ending toe surgery. Lyles was a decent starter in 2014 when he pitched 126 2/3 innings with an ERA of 4.33. He doesn't get a lot of strike outs. He's not going to blow by hitters with a high-velocity fastball or throw a sweeping slider, but he will get hitters to pound the ball into the ground. He throws a low 90's two-seam fastball and was able induce a 51.7% groundball rate in 2014. Lyles is the perfect fifth starter and will consistenly give the Rockies the chance to win a ball game. If Tyler Chatwood is unable to pitch effectively or is moved to the bullpen, Lyles will be the man to take that spot in the rotation.
Tyler Matzek is probably the biggest question mark for the Rockies. His debut season in 2014 was impressive, but something happened between the end of that season and the beginning of 2015 that has affected his ability to be a quality pitcher. Matzek was demoted to Triple-A after just five starts, and then was sent down to Single-A to pitch in some low stress games. Matzek couldn't find the strike zone at any level. Matzek is currently taking time away from baseball to get things figured out, so it's tough to say what his future with the Rockies will be.
The Rockies acquired left-handed Rusin from the Chicago Cubs after he was placed on waivers, and he found his way into the 2015 rotation. Rusin has been a solid starter so far, going 3-3 with a 3.98 ERA. Rusin has put together a strong case to stay in the rotation, but it's hard to put too much faith into his pitching arsenal. He will be a player to keep an eye on in the second half, and if he keeps it up he may be a valuable trade piece or possibly find his way into the rotation.
Kyle Freeland is just 22 years old and has looked dominant in his time in the minor leagues, but injuries have caused a lot of setbacks so far. Freeland recently had surgery to remove bone chips from his arm and was battling fatigue. Freeland likely won't pitch with the Rockies this year, but could possibly see some time in the rotation next year.
The Rockies have some talented pitchers in their system, it's just a matter of these being able to successfully develop and reach their full potential. If these young arms can stay healthy and find success early with the Rockies, Rocktober in 2016 is not a longshot.