This has been an abnormal season for the Colorado Rockies. Yes, they have the best start in team history, but that’s not what I’m referring to. It’s this foreign concept of “pitching depth”, where there’s talent beyond the first four, maybe five (hell, two?), starting pitchers in the major leagues. Instead, the Rockies have eight—yes, eight—starters that can pitch deep into games and give the team a chance to win.
Unfortunately, the full squadron of arms aren’t operational right now. Two are out of commission, making it a little easier to decide who belongs in the rotation. But that’s not the question at hand; if all eight were healthy and ready to pitch, who would your five be? Let’s meet the contestants!
★ ★ ★
Contestant 1: The “Old” Guy
This pitcher is the “elder statesman” of the group and is known for his killer sideburns. He brings a steadying presence to the mound and was a clear bright spot in a 2016 full of silver linings, winning 14 games and setting a career high in fWAR with 2.6. His four pitch mix gives hitters fits and sets the tone for the rest of the rotation. He leads the contestants in age, but that’s misleading because he’s only 28. I give you: Chad Bettis!
Contestant 2: The Tommy-John Two-timer
The Two-timer has recovered from, you guessed it, two Tommy John surgeries. One of these can derail a pitcher’s career, and he’s made it through two to be a member of the best team in the National League. He’s got one of the best sinkers in the game and is in the top ten in baseball in groundball rate, but he has struggled with strikeouts and control. Despite his volatility—he boasts a 12.2 walk percentage—he’s been able to put together a solid 2017 and a solid career in a Rockies uniform. I present to you: Tyler Chatwood!
Contestant 3: The Wolf
The early favorite of Rotation Roulette, this contestant has backed up a lot of potential with some great results. He sits atop the Rockies’ history books already with the highest strikeout percentage for a starting pitcher in the humidor era with a minimum of 100 innings pitched. In his career, he’s struck out opposing batters at 24.6 percent clip. Not only that, he’s third in Rockies history in generating soft contact, when his opponents are lucky enough to do so. His hard fastball, big curveball, and beautiful hair make him a dangerous combination on the mound. This is Jon Gray.
Contestant 4: The Bespectacled One
We’ve heard a lot about this contestant and have seen very little, but the few times he’s made starts this year, we’ve been thoroughly impressed. This contestant will forever be connected to one of the Rockies greats and will determine if we really #WonTheTraid. Whatever the Rockies are having him work on in Albuquerque, it’s clearly making an impact after his impressive shutdown start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. He’s ready, he’s got awesome glasses and an even better arsenal. Jeff Hoffman, everyone!
Contestant 5: The Lefty
This guy likes to approach things from a different side of life. He’s coming off a stellar rookie season and drew comparisons to Clayton Kershaw, the greatest pitcher in the game, and not at all because they’re both left-handed and have a hitch in their delivery. He features the least amount of velocity, but the second highest rate of swings on pitches and whiffs outside of the zone this year behind, Hoffman. He can fool batters with five different fastballs and runners with a pick-off move that might be a balk. He’s Tyler Anderson!
Contestant 6: The Hometown Kid
This groundball fiend has lived up to the hype of a first-round pick. His ground-ball rate sits at 62.8 percent, second only to the former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. He features a nasty two-seamer along with a slider and a changeup. This candidate grew up pitching in altitude. Whether you believe that has an advantage or not, it’s clear that he has an understanding of how to get batters out. His stuff doesn’t induce a lot of swings and misses, but it generates so much soft contact that it evens out. He’s left-handed, only 22, and acts like he’s 32 on the mound. I offer Kyle Freeland for your consideration!
Contestant 7: The Mid-Major
This contestant has some electric stuff, but was the less-heralded part of a trade that keeps getting better and better for the Rockies. He dominated Double-A and was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year in 2016 and has continued that success in the majors. This contestant has been the best at preventing home runs and has allowed one run or less in four of his six starts this year. His fastball is electric, his curveball is dynamic, and his changeup is a work in progress. Our Mid-Major is none other than German Marquez!
Contestant 8: The Charming One
The final candidate on our list had a tragic 2016, losing his mother and his support system. Not a single person can say this pitcher success story doesn’t make them smile, and it’s hard not to when he’s always smiling. Don’t be fooled, though; this pitcher is cool as ice on the mound as the coaching staff was thoroughly impressed with his composure in spring training. His three-pitch mix stymies hitters despite not striking batters out. Our final contestant is Antonio Senzatela.
★ ★ ★
You’ve met the contestants and can see the Rockies predicament. There are eight major-league caliber starting pitchers within the organization. We have two “veterans” who provide some stability, two second-year pitchers that have flashes of greatness, and four impressive rookies in their own particular ways. How you decide to pick your rotation is up to you. Do you place your trust in the veterans and demote the rookies to give them more seasoning for a rainy day? Do you go all in on the young arms and hope that pays off? Hopefully come September this will be an issue the Rockies will be dealing with. Once all are healthy, who do you choose to lead the team?
Now, the real question; which five are your five? Tell us in the comments below!