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Chris Rusin's fortitude could earn him rotation spot in 2016

Chris Rusin's complete game shutout at Coors Field will be Exhibit A in his case for the Colorado Rockies 2016 starting rotation.

Caitlin Rice

He understands the analogy is a bit heavy, but catcher Michael McKenry didn't feel like holding himself back after catching a rare Coors Field complete game shutout.

"I'd go to war with Chris Rusin any day," he said. " He's got a swagger about him, he's got an attitude, he's got a chip on his shoulder, and he goes out there and competes."

McKenry was perhaps the least surprised person in the building when the final out was recorded Sunday afternoon. Very few people had the names "Rusin" or "Coors" in their pre-season CGSO office pools. And yet, while the rarity of the achievement makes all that more impressive Fort Mac (is combining nicknames okay?) wants to "go to war" with guys who couldn't care less about their surroundings.

"Nine innings of shutout baseball really stands out. Even a lot of those hits today were broken bats or bloops -- and this is a tough place to pitch -- but we're all done talking about it. it isn't San Diego but you can have success here and I would take Chris Rusin any day of the week. I've said it since spring training."

It took the rest of us -- most definitely including myself -- much longer to see it, but Rockies fans are starting to feel the same way about Rusin.

He may be pitching at his ceiling right now, and he'll never have overwhelming "stuff" but much like Jorge De La Rosa before him, Rusin could carve out a very nice MLB career simply by being the same pitcher at home as he is on the road. For this team, that simply cannot be ignored.

Manager Walt Weiss chimed in on the subject: "Command the ball, pitch to both sides of the plate and change speeds and you can pitch here. Rusin is a heck of a competitor. He is unflappable."

His unflappability ... unflappableness ... his de-flapped self may be the key to pushing past the names with more hype and becoming a steady hand in an historically rocky rotation. Sigh.

"He just knows how to pitch off the barrel and he keeps his cool at all times," said Weiss.

His wits have manifest in an interesting new wrinkle to his game over the last few weeks; something McKenry calls "The Cueto."

Essentially it's variations on the quick-pitch concept designed to throw off a hitters timing and it worked to perfection during his shutout.

"I just took it inning by inning, pitch by pitch," said Rusin of his terrific outing. "Wasn't trying to do more than I can. Stay within myself."

Staying within himself has him on direct route toward next year's starting rotation.