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Chi Chi González faces uncertain future as a sixth starter

After showing little to separate himself in the rotation, González’s free agency may be looming

Welcome to the 2020 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2020. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

★ ★ ★

No. 14, Chi Chi González: 0.1 rWAR

Plenty remains to be seen from Chi Chi González, and the limited schedule in 2020 did little favors for anyone to see more.

He made four starts this year, which was sixth most among Rockies starters. He posted the highest ERA of those six (6.86), and, at 28, he is older than all of them except Jon Gray by two months. With several younger options available, his immediate fate with the club lies in the hands of the front office.

González made starts this year against the Giants (twice), Dodgers and Padres. He allowed a run in every single appearance he made this year, but it was his start on September 8 that was easily his worst.

He opened by walking Trent Grisham, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado in consecutive plate appearances—all on 3-2 counts. After a 2-2 strikeout to Mitch Moreland, González hit Austin Nola in the back, which brought in the Padres’ first run of the night. Bud Black emerged from the dugout and replaced González with Jose Mujica, who then became the first player in MLB history to allow a grand slam to their first career hitter.

González was responsible for three of those runs. He didn’t pitch again for 11 days.

His next outing came against the Dodgers. Chris Taylor posted a two-run triple in the first inning, but González settled in relatively well after that. His three earned runs on the night proved insurmountable, however, and the Dodgers won 6-1.

The only other work we saw from González as a starter came in two games against the Giants (with a combined 8 13 IP, 6 ER). He did little to separate himself in the rotation, but instead, his best outing of the year came out of the bullpen on August 30. He held the Padres to one run over four innings.

González has made eight career relief appearances. Given the recent volatility of the Rockies bullpen, perhaps he could help that cause in 2021. Jeff Hoffman was assigned to a similar role in 2020.

Earlier this week, Noah Yingling of RoxPile identified the arbitration-eligible González as a non-tender candidate this offseason. González will turn 29 prior to Opening Day in 2021. Meanwhile, Ryan Rolison, Jose Mujica, Peter Lambert (post-Tommy John) and Antonio Santos are all younger starting options that could separate themselves in the coming years.