It's been a brutal April for Jorge De La Rosa. In five starts, he's allowed 23 earned runs, coughed up seven gopher balls, posted a 10.18 ERA, and only made it through to total of 20.1 innings (basically averaging four innings a start). It's possible he was injured before last night (he didn't look comfortable on the mound in Cincinnati last week at all), but there's no doubt there's something wrong now after he pulled up lame running to first base in his third inning at bat against Gerrit Cole.
The Rockies now must decided whether or not De La Rosa's groin tweak is serious enough to place him on the DL. Either way, it leaves the team in a tough spot. If he stays in the rotation, the Rockies have an aging pitcher with declining velocity who can't eat innings this season as the veteran presence of a staff that's in the process of transitioning to a complete stable of young arms.
So far, the biggest issue for this group has been length out of the starters. Jon Gray is still learning how to work deeper into games (he also started the year on the sidelines), Tyler Chatwood is a guy that probably needs to be kept on a pitch limit considering his injury history, and Jordan Lyles has been so awful across the board that he's already earned his ticket to Albuquerque. In order to avoid completely trashing the bullpen by June, the Rockies need more length out of their starters, and healthy or not, De La Rosa doesn't seem like he's part of the solution to that problem right now.
If the Rockies do end up placing De La Rosa on the DL, the guy who probably needs to fill his spot is Christian Bergman. He's not really a great answer to the "need more length out of the starters" problem either, but the last thing you want to do is rush any of the young arms who are part of your long term plans. I know the Rockies have made a series of moves the last four months indicating they want to be competitive this year, but hopefully they will see the light and just move Bergman into this role and not try anything drastic.
Some fans will cry for Jeff Hoffman and point to his 1.99 ERA in Triple-A, but it would be foolish to promote him now. Despite solid overall results, he's still only averaged 5.2 innings a start and needs more time to polish his game before being exposed to major league hitters. (He's also only made 13 starts above High-A in his career.) The 2016 Rockies just aren't very good, and a raw Jeff Hoffman being thrown to the wolves isn't going to change that.
Story got his first game of the year off yesterday as he tries to make adjustments at the plate to combat the book pitchers now have on him. The biggest thing Story needs to work on offensively is getting his strike out rate below 30 percent (it sits at just over 36 percent right now). Other than that, he has the game to be a solid major league hitter. Story's already shown he has power to all fields, his walk percentage is creeping up, he makes the pitcher work, and his minor league track record says he'll make adjustments to improve his peripheral stats after a couple hundred plate appearances at each level.
With everything else he brings to the table, he can survive with a strike out rate of 25 percent. He won't keep hitting home runs the way he has in April, but there's clearly enough extra base pop in his bat to excuse a certain amount of empty at bats (just not over 30 percent).
Perhaps the most amusing part of this piece is where Girardi says "it's an illegal defense." So not only is Girardi not a fan of having to adapt to something that's revolutionized the game, but he also doesn't know the rule book. Other than the pitcher and catcher, you can place the fielders wherever you want as long as they start each play in fair territory.
I'm linking this brief recap of the Astros game last night because it's part of a big picture point Rockies fans should be looking at when it comes to our own rebuild. The Astros averaged 98 losses a season from 2009 through 2014, amassed a ton of high draft picks, and built up a farm that put them on a seemingly sure road to success.
Last year was supposed to be the beginning of a long string of special seasons in Houston as they won 86 games and made the playoffs. However, a closer look reveals a potentially troubling tale. Last year's Astros got off to a red hot start during the first 25 games (18-7) and then played a game under .500 the rest of the way. Now this year, they're off to a disastrous 6-15 start, leaving the AL West is a state of chaos.
Here's the point I want to make; the Astros are now 78-84 in their last 162 regular season games. In other words, they haven't really proven they've successfully emerged from their rebuild phase outside of the 25 game hot streak at the start of last season, and if this thing doesn't turn around by June, it's probably fair game to start looking at some of the things they might have done wrong so the Rockies can avoid a similar fate when they get to this stage of their rebuild.
Who knows, maybe the Astros come back and win their division and this year's slow start proves to be the outlier, but there's reason to be a lot less confident about this rebuild being a success than there was a year ago at this time.