Saturday, April 5th – Rockies beat Seattle in last exhibition game of spring training in front of a full house in Las Vegas, giving them a 17-17 record for the spring. Now it’s time to play some baseball.
With the Rockies season opener scheduled for tomorrow, 1:40PM lost time zone, against division rival,, Arizona, at Chase Field, I thought I would use the off day to speculate on the team one more time
A studied once around the league gives me no more insight into the Rockies pitching staff than what I already knew – nobody can name the starters much less talk about the bullpen – a pitching staff Hurdle has held down to 10 pitchers.
Since most of baseball’s learned pundits place the success or failure of the Rockies’ season square on the arms of a bunch of no names, I thought I spend a minutes and find out who these guys are.
Let’s take a look at the starting 5. The rotation faces questions again this season, but with the Rocks playing in Coors, we can expect the starters to get a good offset with their team generally scoring more runs in the mile high air.
#1 Aaron Cook RHP – Don’t forget, Aaron Cook was an All Star last year. He includes in his pitches a wicked sinker that helped him raise his season total strikeouts to 96, a career best . Cook’s weakness, however, is his inability to pitch to left handers (.299 career) as well as right. Perhaps the slider he has been working on this spring will help in that regard. Last season Cook started strong with a 4-1 record in April – let’s see if he can repeat the performance.
#2 Ubaldo Jiminez RHP – Jiminez continues to show strength in getting batters to hit the ground ball while adding a devastating sinking fastball and changeup. Last year, Jiminez posted 172 K’s mixing up his delivery with a screaming 4 seam fastball and the occasional curveball. The rub, however, is Jiminez continues to overthrow when tired and occasionally throws a wild one over the catcher‘s head.
#3 Franklin Morales LHP – Morales was introduced to Rockies fans at the end of the 2007 season when the Rockies made their incredible run to the World Series. Morales played a key role in their success. Unfortunately coming back amid high expectations for the 2008 season, Morales didn’t deliver and spent the year in the minors. Posting a healthy spring after back issues nagged him at the end of last year and through the off season, Morales is expected to ride on his mean fastball with a killer changeup thrown in for effect.
#4 Jason Marquis RHP – Following the loss of Jeff Francis, the Rockies need another inning eater in the rotation and they are hoping Marquis will be the guy. 200 innings of solid pitching should be right up his alley. Marquis needs to ignore the chatter and distraction of major league play and settle in for a nice ride at Coors Field.
#5 Jorge De La Rosa LHP – Acquired by the Rockies last year, De La Rosa posted solid numbers until sidelined with an elbow injury. With a healthy return to the rotation this spring and the best spring season performance of the staff, De La Rosa will be opening Saturday, April 11th at Coors Field vs. the Phillies.
Clint Hurdle continues to quietly amass power in his lineup and if his hitters perform the way he hopes, the starting 5 can stretch their innings and keep the team in contention. Looking past Helton in the lineup, who seems to be healthy and once again hitting for power, the Rockies lineup includes 3 other players who should each easily amass 20 home runs and 100 RBIs – Tulowitski, Hawpe, and Atkins. Throw in Baker and Stewart who should stick with the club this year and catcher, Iannetta, and the Rockies have the ability to compete in a wide open NL West.
Next week we’ll break down the forgotten five on the roster, the bullpen.
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Written by Denni Secline