Welcome to the 2021 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2021. 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.
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No. 38, Ryan Feltner: -0.3 rWAR
No. 37, Peter Lambert: -0.3 rWAR
Both Ryan Feltner and Peter Lambert each made a pair of starts late in the year for the Rockies. Neither pitched for very long (combined 12 IP over four starts), but they were both able to get a taste of Coors. For Feltner, it was his first time pitching at altitude; for Lambert, it was his first time facing big-league players in 735 days. Even though they were short outings (and rough, in some cases), the Rockies were able to get a glimpse at potential starters who could join the club in the near future.
Feltner (No. 14 PuRP) was called up from the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats on September 5 and made his MLB debut against the Atlanta Braves. In that start, the 25-year-old righty was rocked for six runs on five hits (including three home runs) in 2 2⁄3 innings. He also hit a batter and walked two without recording a single strikeout. Heading straight from Hartford to Coors is challenging, but it was certainly a very rude “welcome to the big leagues” for Feltner. To make matters worse, he gave up a solo home run to Ozzie Albies on the first pitch of the game. That put him in some dubious company. According to the Rockies:
- First MLB starter since Robert Duggar (Miami) to give up a home run on the first pitch of his big league debut (Aug. 5, 2019 against the Mets)
- Second Rockies pitcher to do so in 2021 (Lucas Gilbreath against the Diamondbacks)
- Fifth Rockies pitcher in history to allow three home runs in MLB debut (last was Rico Garcia on Aug. 27, 2019 against the Red Sox)
- Ninth Rockie in history to give up 6+ earned runs in MLB debut (last: José Mujica, Sept. 8, 2020 against the Padres)
Feltner also made a start in Philadelphia against the Phillies on September 12. In that game, he pitched 3 2⁄3 innings and allowed just two runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. A week later he was optioned to the Albuquerque Isotopes, and then was placed on the 7-day Injured List on September 30 after making just one start for the Isotopes (2 2⁄3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 2 K). Considering Feltner started the year in High-A Spokane (7 GS, 3-1, 2.17 ERA), kept up his good work in Double-A Hartford (13 GS, 5-2, 2.85 ERA), and made it to The Show all in one year, the future looks bright for the 25-year-old after a rocky intro to Coors Field.
On the other hand, Peter Lambert also made his 2021 debut in late September after having Tommy John surgery in July 2020. Lambert made his MLB debut on June 6, 2019 and pitched in 19 games for the Rockies that season, posting a 3-7 record and 7.25 ERA. He went down with the injury in spring training 2020, and worked his way back in 2021.
His first game back was on September 24 against the eventual-NL West champion San Francisco Giants. Lambert pitched 3 2⁄3 innings, allowing two earned runs (both solo homers to Tommy La Stella and Brandon Crawford). He also walked run and struck out two. In his second game back against the Washington Nationals, he pitched just two innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits. He also struck out and walked one batter each.
Lambert began his road back to the bigs in August with the Spokane Indians. He pitched four games for them (7 2⁄3 IP, 5.87 ERA) before heading to Hartford. With the Yard Goats, Lambert pitched two games (5 2⁄3 IP, 3.18 ERA) and then in his final rehab appearance, he pitched 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings for the Isotopes.
With the Rockies starting pitching a bit up in the air for next year, it’s good to see guys like Lambert come back and good to see how guys like Feltner could fair in the bigs. Feltner probably needs some more seasoning in Triple-A before he becomes a full-time big leaguer, but the future is bright for some of these young Rockies prospects.