Well, it happens every year. Spring Training comes and someone very important to the Rockies' outlook on the season gets injured. While this stunts expectation and hope, the Rockies find a way to move forward. It is a little different this year. A little harder.
Chad Bettis, you sir are courageous and an inspiration to people everywhere with how well you're handling the news of cancer spreading. Thoughts and prayers will be with Chad as he proactively takes the mound to beat an opposing team that has a lot of wins over the years. Luckily for Chad, he's won a good deal of games too and has a leg up with early detection, a sense of urgency, and a bulldog mentality. The Rockies still have to find a way to move forward though. Let's look into the options a little further.
- Jeff Hoffman/German Marquez - Hoffman seems to have an edge to win the now #4 starting spot. This gives Marquez an opportunity to battle the next man on the list for the #5 spot. Marquez has a ton of potential, and Bud Black seems to like the idea of Marquez being in the rotation.
- Kyle Freeland - There's been a lot of buzz this spring about how hard Freeland has been working to impress the team. His outings have been pretty crisp too. Especially after his last outing when he was so efficient with his pitches that he had to head to the bullpen for an extra 15 pitches.
- Chris Rusin - While he's hurt now, Rusin doesn't seem like the kind of guy that needs a lot of spring innings to be ready to pitch. He's got that bulldog mentality and it's not like he needs to build up his velocity. He already depends on movement and pitch location. He could sneak into the rotation late this spring.
- Antonio Senzatela - While the potential is there, I think it is a lot safer to say Senzatela just isn't ready for the big league rotation just yet. I could argue he's ready for MLB action as a bullpen arm, but it'd be silly to not continue developing him as a starter.
- Alex Wood/Brandon McCarthy (Dodgers) - The Dodgers may have enough guys to field two MLB rotations if every one of their starters was healthy. Depending on whether Urias starts the year in the bigs, Wood and McCarthy are probably on the outside looking in. Wood has pitched in relief some so he could stick with the team in that function. McCarthy is still owed a large sum of money which makes him an unlikely target for the Rockies unless the Dodgers eat a ton of his contract.
- Travis Wood/Chris Young (Royals) - Travis Wood is a lot like Chris Rusin. Probably shouldn't be starting but he can throw some meaningful innings for you as a starter, and then go back to the bullpen whenever you need him to. He can also hit. He likely wins a spot in the Royals rotation, but if that's in doubt in a couple of weeks the Rockies could try and pry him from the Royals. Chris Young would be a cheap patch and probably isn't a very good option. He does have history with Bud Black though.
- Anibal Sanchez/Mike Pelfrey (Tigers) - Sanchez and Pelfrey have not looked good in the spring and haven't pitched that well in some time. They're also owed a ton of money considering these facts. Only chance one of them is an option is if the Tigers eat most of their contract. Probably not much of an upgrade over Marquez/Freeland, but they do bring veteran experience.
- Chris Heston (Mariners) - The Mariners have a bunch of rotation candidates and Heston probably isn't going to be one of them in the end. He has an option remaining, so he will probably serve as AAA depth.
- I don't think the Jose Quintanas and Marcus Stromans of the MLB world are really legitimate options at this point. Earlier in the offseason, sure. I don't see a deal of this magnitude going down weeks into spring training. It'd be more likely for the Rockies to try and float with the current rotation and wait until closer to the trade deadline to make a splash.
Potential Waiver Options:
- Drew Hutchison (Pirates) - Hutchison has looked good early in the spring after making some adjustments with Searage. He may pitch his way into the rotation, but if not the Rockies could take a flyer. Probably not much of an upgrade over Marquez/Freeland though.
- Jarred Cosart/Christian Friedrich (Padres) - The Padres have loaded up on veteran arms on short-term deals hoping to catch fire and cash in during a rebuilding year. Friedrich looks likely to win the #5 spot as of now, but if he didn't the Rockies could try and make a play for him as he's out of options. Cosart is also out of options and has had flashes of great stuff.
- Doug Fister - Fister has had some good success in his career. Fister has never really thrown the ball very hard, so the lack of velocity isn't a huge concern for me. He's similar to Rusin in that he depends on movement and location. While he didn't pitch amazingly for the Astros, he ate up a lot of innings and pitched what would have been great results for the Rockies out of a #5 spot.
- Colby Lewis - See Fister really. A lot of the same. Lewis has said that he won't take a minor league deal, which isn't prohibitive for the Rockies as long as he doesn't also demand a lucrative contract. Even if given $1M guarantee and the Rockies have to cut bait with him, that may be worth the risk of adding his veteran experience and competition for others in the running.
- Edwin Jackson - Interesting player. Seen some success, but mostly failure. The guy can still pump up the fastball though. I'd probably prefer Jackson over Fister and Lewis honestly. If he figured some things out, his ceiling is much higher than the rest on this list. Plus he could potentially be used as a bullpen arm if needed during the year.
- Henderson Alvarez - Alvarez is still very young, but he has dealt with a myriad of health problems. He's still recovering from shoulder surgery, but was said to be holding a bullpen session for scouts on March 5. I haven't seen any news on that, so maybe it happened and maybe it didn't.
- Jake Peavy - Peavy has a ton of veteran experience and also NL West experience. I don't think that's a positive necessarily though. He'd fit in with the team quickly and could give you some innings to start the year.
- Tim Lincecum - See Peavy.