The Rockies starting rotation has a clear top four (although we can debate the order in which they should pitch) in Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, Germán Márquez, and Antonio Senzatela. It’s possibly the best rotation the franchise has ever had. With the top four spots of the rotation locked up, however, there remains much uncertainty around the fifth spot.
While the front of the rotation has been consistently good (at least good enough to establish themselves in the rotation), the fifth starter over the past two seasons has been consistently bad. The cast of characters includes Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, Ryan Castellani, Chi Chi González, Peter Lambert, and Tim Melville. Of the group, Castellani and González remain in the mix to compete for the fifth starter position this season with Lambert eventually joining them as he works to come back from major surgery.
González has seen the lion’s share of opportunities logging 14 starts over the past two seasons. He was non-tendered by the Rockies in the offseason but was later brought back on a one-year minor league contract. He has a career line of 82 ⅔ IP, 2-8, 5.66 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 62 SO in a Rockies uniform amounting to a cumulative fWAR of 0.4. Fangraphs’ ZiPS projection favors González to make the most starts for the Rockies outside of the top four with a projected fWAR of 0.1.
Castellani, the Rockies’ second-round pick in the 2014 amateur draft, made his MLB debut in the 2020 season. He had some very good starts (including 4 ⅔ innings of no-hit baseball in his first appearance) and some awful performances that balanced each other out. It amounted to a line of 43 ⅓ IP, 1-4, 5.82 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 25 SO and an fWAR of 0.1. He could certainly build off of his rookie season and show improvement in 2021, but the ZiPS projection pegs him for -0.9 fWAR (I believe this is way off).
Similar to picking up González in 2018 as a free agent, the Rockies found a budget arm that they believe could develop into a rotation option for them in former San Francisco Giant, Dereck Rodríguez. He was fantastic as a rookie in 2018 where he had a line of 118 ⅓ IP, 6-4, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 89 SO. He was unable to sustain that level of success in 2019 and 2020 and was eventually released. The deal he signed with the Rockies includes a spring training invite so he is expected to be in the mix to compete for a rotation spot.
There are numerous other young arms that the Rockies could march out to the mound including Antonio Santos and Ryan Rolison, but barring injuries to the rotation it’s doubtful that we’ll see many innings logged from this duo or other current minor league pitchers.
Although the front office has been reluctant to make any moves this offseason, free agency could make sense. With so much uncertainty surrounding the fifth starter, a modest, short-term deal with a veteran starting pitcher could yield a lot for the Rockies. Recent signings around the league such as Tyler Chatwood (one year, $3M), Jon Lester (one year, $5M), and Alex Wood (one year, $3M) indicate that it’s a buyer’s market. Who’s left on the market? A few days ago Samantha Bradfield made the case for signing Taijuan Walker. There are a handful of other options including Aníbal Sánchez and Julio Teheran who have previously had success in the big leagues and could be signed for a modest sum.
Who is most likely to take over the fifth spot in the rotation?
This poll is closed
Chi Chi González
★ ★ ★
The free agent market is starting to pick up according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. With DJ LeMahieu now a Yankee for the next six seasons, he expects the second base market to move quickly. Rogers also claims that the potential for a DH in the National League for the 2021 season is still alive. Players like Mitch Moreland and Nelson Cruz would greatly benefit from DH eligibility in the NL. The Rockies have been linked to pursuing Moreland in addition to a few other teams.
Brenton Doyle, currently the 13th ranked Rockies prospect by MLB.com was interviewed by Kevin Henry of Rox Pile. Doyle was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Shepherd University. He excelled with Grand Junction in 2019 but faced adversity suffering facial fractures after being struck by a ball while sitting in the dugout. Rockies assistant general manager of player development Zach Wilson was impressed by Doyle’s play during instructs stating he is “Maybe the most unheralded and underrated prospect in our organization.”
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!