Here’s a shocking development.
Juan Nicasio may not be in the starting rotation when the Rockies start their 2013 season next month.
He has struggled with his command since spring training.
This is where Rockies manager Walt Weiss and Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright have to think long and hard on what to do with Nicasio if he continues to struggle.
Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis and Jorge De La Rosa are going to be in the rotation, and they are going to be probable starters when the Rockies play the Brewers in the first week of April.
Drew Pomeranz has had a better command after an okay first start in spring training. If he continues to pitch well, he will be in the rotation. The Rockies have lot invested in him, and they are going to give him an opportunity to be in the rotation.
So there are four starters already.
Chris Volstad has been a surprise. No one expected much from him after he struggled for the Marlins and Cubs in the last two years. There was a reason the Rockies signed him to a minor-league contract. But here he is as he is trying to make the team and be in the rotation. He has done well so far by throwing the ball down in the zone and getting outs through groundballs.
So it comes down to Volstad and Nicasio for the final spot in the rotation.
This is not what the Rockies envisioned. They figured Nicasio would be a cinch in the rotation, but he is fighting for a spot after struggling in spring training.
When Nicasio started against the Mariners on Monday, he had nothing. He struggled with his command as he was behind the count often, and he was hit around. His ERA is at 5.40.
This has been an issue for him in spring training.
The thought is Nicasio has been working with his secondary pitches. Wright has been working with the starter on using the slider and changeup to get hitters out in the middle innings.
Nicasio can’t get by with throwing fastballs. Hitters will figure it out after they take their first turn against him. That’s why he is working on other pitches. The Rockies want him to go deep in the game, and for him to do that, he has to work on his secondary pitches.
So far, it hasn’t been successful. He may not be good enough to get hitters out with other pitches based on his track record. This is a recipe for failure as a starter.
If he gets by with one pitch, he will be done in the fourth inning. That’s been the case with the 26-year-old righty.
The Rockies hoped Nicasio would have come along by now as a starter, but it hasn’t happened. They are going to have to wonder if he ever will be.
This year might as well be make or break for him. He can only have so many chances.
The Rockies are hoping he figure it out the next few weeks. If he does that, he will be in the starting rotation.
Nicasio is not anything special, but he gives the Rockies a chance to win more than Volstad.
Put Volstad at Coors Field, and he will bomb. He gave up 23 home runs two years ago, so imagine how many home runs he would give up pitching at altitude. He had a 6.31 ERA last year, and his ERA has been around 5 in his career.
Volstad’s spring training stats has been a mirage, but if Nicasio continues to struggle, there is no way the Rockies can justify starting him.
It’s surprising to see Nicasio struggle. There was a school of thought he could be an effective starter. He certainly has the stuff, and he is aggressive out there. He has showed flashes of potential. He can’t put everything together.
Nicasio still has time, but he has to pick up the pace. He has to know how come up with secondary pitches soon if he wants to be an effective starter this year.
All Nicasio has to do is been okay. If he does that, he will be in the rotation. That shows how the Rockies don’t trust Volstad.
It’s hard to believe Volstad can keep it up. The bar is low for Nicasio.
If Nicasio loses out to Volstad for the fifth spot, shame on him.
Drew Pomeranz used his first spring training start to show he is qualified to be the Rockies’ fifth starter.
Based on his performance against the Diamondbacks yesterday afternoon, he has work to do.
Pomeranz did okay in his two innings of work. He gave up two runs on three hits, and he walked two hitters while striking out one.
It’s safe to say the young starter is a work in progress.
No one expected Pomeranz to retire six hitters in a row. He is not good enough to do that in a spring training game.
What the Rockies want to see is their young starter not get affected after a hitter had a good at-bat against him. That did not happen yesterday.
When Willie Bloomquist had a good at-bat against Pomeranz that resulted to a double in the first inning, the Rockies starter started to nibble around the strike zone rather than throw strikes.
In the second inning, Eric Hinske worked the count against Pomeranz, and that was good enough to get on base with a walk. After that, the 24-year old fell behind the count, and Brad Snyder had a base hit to have two men start the inning.
He can’t let one good at-bat affect him. It’s a problem young starters have when they start out in the majors.
To Pomeranz’s credit, he worked through jams.
Pomeranz was able to give up a run in the first inning rather than have the Diamondbacks tie the game at 2 after having a 2-0 lead to work with. He got groundouts to get out of it.
With Hinske and Snyder on base to start the second inning, Pomeranz was able to get John McDonald to ground into a double play as Hinske was out at third.
The Diamondbacks scored another run to cut the Rockies’ lead to 4-2 in the second inning when Adam Eaton’s hit scored Snyder. Pomeranz got out of the inning by getting Bloomquist to ground out.
While Pomeranz should be commended for getting by, he has to do better than this.
He has to throw zeroes on the scoreboard when he is out on the mound. He can’t be getting into jams or else a team will get him out of the game eventually.
It was a good thing for the 24-year old southpaw that he only pitched two innings. He would have been out of the game in the third inning if he had to pitch for five innings.
Pomeranz also has to work on his command. He can’t be falling behind the count and expect to get by. That was another problem he had yesterday.
It’s only one start, but Pomeranz has to do better than what he showed yesterday afternoon. It’s hard to be reliable when he is not throwing strikes or be in a position to finish the hitter out after he gets the second strike.
Pomeranz’s next start has to be better in spring training. He has to go after the hitters. He has to finish them off. He has to show that he can win the battle of a long at-bat against a hitter. That will be an indication if he made strides or not.
As much as the Rockies want Pomeranz to start just to justify the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, they are not going to give him a spot in the rotation if he pitched like he did yesterday. It has to be earned.
There are rumors floating around the Rockies could acquire Jeff Neimann or Chris Capuano. That shows how the organization does not trust Pomeranz to do well as a starter. Yesterday’s performance justifies that belief.
It’s remarkable the Rockies could not make a trade to get a legitimate starter when they had all offseason to do so. They thought they could get by with Pomeranz as their fifth starter.
Based on what they saw out of their 24-year old lefty in camp and yesterday, there has to be a sense of urgency for the Rockies to get a starter who can give them wins and quality starts.
There also has to be a sense of urgency for Pomeranz. He may not get an opportunity to be the fifth starter if the Rockies can get a deal done to get Neimann or Capuano. His chances of making the rotation could hinge on what he does in his next start.
Doing okay yesterday is not good enough for Pomeranz.
This is an important year for Drew Pomeranz.
After last year’s 2-9 record with a 4.93 ERA, the Rockies starter has to show the organization that he is making progress as a starter.
Pomeranz had his mulligan. Now, it’s about making improvements on the mound.
He knows it. The Rockies know it.
There is pressure on Pomeranz to do well after they gave up Ubaldo Jimenez for him. The Rockies can say all they want about there are no expectations for him, but who is kidding whom here?
If Pomeranz does not show any improvement this year, one has to wonder if he is ever going to improve.
It’s no secret that it’s not easy to pitch at Coors Field. It can get the worst out of the pitchers to the point they have to be traded or released for them to get back on track. Ex-Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie is a good example. He struggled as a Rockie to the point he expected to fail when it was his turn to start. He had to be traded to Kansas City for him to straighten out his mechanics.
The Rockies are hoping that’s not the case with Pomeranz.
Rockies assistant pitching coach Bo McLaughlin worked with Pomeranz’s delivery when the young starter was pitching at Triple-A Colorado Springs last year after his demotion.
Pomeranz followed it up by working out with Major Leaguers in Los Angeles this offseason.
The hope is adjustments and experience can serve him well.
What Pomeranz needs is confidence and consistency.
One good performance can start an avalanche of great starts. It’s something Pomeranz has to do for him to get on a roll.
By pitching well in one start, Pomeranz can look at the video and figure out what he did right. Then, he can build on that for another start. That would be the ideal situation.
It remains to be seen if he can do that.
Pomeranz could do fine in spring training, but that does not mean much. It’s hard to judge him if he works for few innings.
The Rockies starter will be judged by what he does in April. That’s if he makes the rotation.
The Rockies want to see him in the rotation. They feel he can only progress by pitching in the majors. It’s hard to see how he can get better in the minors.
A good outing in the majors can go a long way for Pomeranz. He can learn something in an outing against a team with professional hitters.
Then, Pomeranz needs to have good starts for him to get confidence.
If he can be confident, then consistency will come.
Pitching is all about confidence. That means pitchers have to trust their stuff and attack. They have to go out with the idea they will shut down the other hitters.
It sounds simple, but it isn’t, especially when it comes to pitching at Coors Field.
Walt Weiss was hired as a Rockies manager, so that he can encourage guys not to give in. The hope is that the new Rockies manager can be a good influence to Pomeranz when it comes to pitching.
Still, it’s about executing. No one can do it for Pomeranz. He has to get it done when it’s time for him to pitch.
It’s imperative Pomeranz does well in spring training. It will show how much improvement he has made. A little improvement can be considered progress.
By being in the starting rotation, it will show Pomeranz’s work in the offseason paid off.
Pomeranz is competing with Tyler Chatwood, Chris Volstad, Josh Outman and Christian Friedrich. His competitors are not great as starters, so his chances of making the rotation are good.
The Rockies feel he should win the final spot of the rotation. They know he has the ability and stuff to be an effective starter. They know he has more talent on the mound than his competitors.
This is why there has to be a sense of urgency for him to make the rotation. If he can’t make it, it’s easy to doubt if he has the mindset to be a good pitcher.
Confidence and consistency is something Pomeranz needs to have. It has to start from spring training all the way through the regular season.
That’s why there is so much on the line for him this spring training.
It’s time to see what he has.
Know what would be nice?
The Rockies receiving quality starts from their starters. If that happens, the season would be a success in itself.
That’s how low the bar is for this woebegone franchise.
The Rockies have never been known for pitching. They won when they outscored the other team. That’s not a recipe for success. No team won a championship with lousy pitching, and that’s never going to change.
Starters dictate the game by striking out hitters, working fast and not getting into jams.
When the Rockies had that incredible October run in 2007 by going to the World Series, it was their starting pitching that fueled their success. Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez were shutting down hitters, and Latroy Hawkins, Brian Fuentes and Manny Corpas finished the game by protecting the lead.
Looking back at how the pitchers performed during Rocktober, it’s surprising those guys found a way to pitch well. Everything went right for them at the right time in September, and the magic ended when the Red Sox hit them well in their four-game sweep of the Rockies in the World Series.
The same guys pitched awful in 2008, so there was no return trip to the playoffs for the Rockies.
Outside of Francis, no one from that 2007 team is pitching for the Rockies anymore. Corpas is trying to make the team as a non-roster invitee.
That should indicate that run was a fluke. It doesn’t take away what the pitchers accomplished that September and October, though.
The Rockies are hoping to find pitchers who are consistently good for years to come. They have been searching for that since they were in Major League Baseball in 1993. It’s been a struggle outside of 2007.
They are hoping their pitching trio in Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio and Drew Pomeranz will lead the Rockies to many wins. The problem is no one knows how good those three can be.
It’s about time the three of them start being the answers. They have had enough time to learn on the job as pitchers.
The Rockies feel Chacin can be the ace of the staff after he had a 2.84 ERA in the final six weeks of the season. He pitched well when he returned from the disabled list in August as a result of a dead arm. His command was much better. They know he can be effective at Coors Field by using his sinker. He won 11 games two years ago, and he can be better.
The Rockies hope Chacin’s upside will pay off. Of all the starters that can pitch, it’s him. He racks up strikeouts, which he threw 150 strikeouts in 2011 and 138 strikeouts in 2010. He has an electric arm, and he incorporate his fastballs and sinkers to get hitters off-balance.
Nicasio can pitch. He gives the Rockies innings, and he is a guy that can get outs with his fastball. The problem with him is that his season has been cut short with injuries the last two years. He has to pitch a full season for one to determine if he is a reliable starter or not.
One thing about him is he will go after hitters. That attitude helps him do well as a pitcher. Maybe this is the year he puts it all together and last the entire season.
Pomeranz has to start showing something. He has been awful for the Rockies. He doesn’t trust his stuff, and he does not have any control with 46 walks last year to show for it. He went 2-9 last season.
Granted, it was his first full season last year. He has to show progress despite that. He needs to show he can be better this year. He can’t get worse.
The Rockies have not gotten much from the guys they received from the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Alex White is no longer in the organization after he was traded to the Astros this offseason.
If Pomeranz bombs as a starter, the Jimenez deal will be a failure for the Rockies. That’s why they need him to do well.
For the Rockies to have a winning season or contend for a playoff start, they need Chacin, Nicasio and Pomeranz to evolve into legitimate starters. They need them to be reliable every fifth day, and those three starters need to eat up innings when it’s their turn to start.
It’s not going to be easy. It never is for the Rockies.
They have tried to find young starters who can grow into the job forever it seems. They have no choice until they finally find that trio.
They hope Chacin, Nicasio and Pomeranz can end their pursuit of finding starters who can pitch.