Tagged: Roy Oswalt

Nicasio must make most of his audition

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

Last night proved Yankees radio announcer John Sterling’s point about how no one can predict baseball.

Not only did the Rockies score runs against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, but they received a great pitching performance from Juan Nicasio last night in their 3-0 victory over the Dodgers.

It was something no one expected. Not even the Rockies thought this would happen if one puts a truth serum on them.

Nicasio was the only one that expected to pitch a great performance.

Obviously, something clicked when he made his two starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He figured out how to throw strikes by hitting the corners, and that’s why he knew he was going to pitch well when he made his start against the Dodgers.

Nicasio applied what he learned from the minors in last night’s game. He was ahead of the count, and that helped him avoid being in jams and minimize his pitch count. It was good enough for him to pitch seven innings of shutout baseball while giving up three hits against the Dodgers.

From watching the game, it was like watching a different pitcher.

Nicasio pitched with a purpose, and he gave a good feeling that he was going to put on a great performance after watching him in the third inning.

To say this was his best performance of his career is an understatement.

If nothing else, Nicasio gave the Rockies something to think about.

There’s no question he is going to make his next start with Roy Oswalt being on the 15-day disabled list.

If Nicasio does well in his next three starts, he is going to be in the rotation. There is no question about it.

For all intents and purposes, this is an audition.

The Rockies should hope Nicasio keeps this up. He is an upgrade over Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz.

The Rockies thought Oswalt would make the starting rotation better, but that hasn’t been the case. He is 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in four starts. He gave up 29 hits, and he has only gone past the fifth inning only once. He basically has nothing when he is pitching on the mound.

It is hard to be optimistic about Oswalt pitching well when he hasn’t showed he could.

It was too much to ask for Oswalt to do well. He is not the pitcher he was in his prime during his Astros days. His fastball has no bite anymore, and he has been hittable. He has been on a decline for the last two years.

The Rockies can’t trot Oswalt as they move forward.

Pomeranz has been underwhelming in his three starts since he was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs. He is 0-3, and he has given up 12 runs and 19 hits. He continues to display command problems on the mound. He has not gone past the fourth inning at all.

He is so bad that Nicasio is an upgrade over him. That speaks volumes when one realizes Nicasio has not been good prior to last night’s start.

Fortunately for Pomeranz, the Rockies will have him start, so that they can see if he gets better as the season progresses. They have to find out if he is in their long-term plans.

For Nicasio, he feels he is better than Oswalt and Pomeranz. He should feel that way considering his fastball is much better than anything Oswalt and Pomeranz throw.

One thing about Nicasio is he will battle. He has the moxie to get out of jams when he has to.  What he has to do is find a way to go deep in games. That has been his problem as he is done once the fifth inning starts.

Last night should be encouraging for Nicasio. He can build from this performance. Pitching is all about confidence, so if he continues to apply what he did in the minors, he is going to be in good shape.

If he reinvents himself, the Rockies have another reliable starter.

The Rockies are going to have a hard time getting a starter in the trade market. They have nothing to offer from their farm system, and they are not willing to pick up a salary of an expensive pitcher.

That’s why the Rockies are hoping for Nicasio to finally figure it out. That’s why they hope last night is a start of something good.

If Tyler Chatwood, Jhoulys Chacin and Nicasio continue to throw quality starts, the Rockies have themselves a legitimate starting rotation with Jorge De La Rosa being a sure thing. That would be good enough to help them be a factor in the mediocre NL West race.

This is why what Nicasio did last night has the Rockies feeling giddy. But he has to show he can sustain this.

Throwing a quality start is nice, but it’s going to mean nothing if he can’t do it several times.

Nicasio is getting a second chance to show he should stay in the starting rotation. He knows he has to make the most of it with the idea he can stick around.

Time will tell if last night was a harbinger of what he can do.

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Making most of opportunity matters to Oswalt

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

Roy Oswalt begged teams to give him a tryout this offseason.

He wanted to atone for last year’s horrible performance with the Rangers, and he wanted to retire on a positive note.

Not many teams called, and it’s understandable why he had no feelers after going 4-3 with a .571 ERA in nine starts and 17 games.  Plus, his reputation took a hit as he was viewed as a malcontent after not being happy about being a Rangers reliever.

Fortunately for Oswalt, the Rockies called. They are willing to try anyone, and that shows how desperate they are when it comes to pitching.

They signed him to a minor-league contract, and he pitched well enough by going 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA while striking out 25 hitters.

Oswalt’s ability to strike guys out was why the Rockies feel confident he would do well in the starting rotation.

It was a perfect match for both parties.

For Oswalt, this was about him wanting something to prove. He wanted to show that he still has it in pitching in the majors.

This was about him wanting to show perseverance after going through setbacks.

This was about him wanting to find the joy of pitching in the majors again.

For the Rockies, they just wanted a starter who can pitch.

Oswalt made his Rockies debut last night, and it was a mixed bag. That should be expected for a guy who hasn’t started in quite awhile.

Oswalt struck out 11 Nationals, but he gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings, even though his defense did not field well. He took the loss in the Rockies’ 5-1 loss to the Nationals last night at Nationals Park.

His fastball had so much movement, and he threw 94 miles per hour.

He did a good job of mixing up curveballs, sliders and changeups to add to his fastball.

Despite only using few pitches to throw curveballs, sliders and changeups, he at least used them to get hitters out rather than rely on fastball.

It’s important he continues to mix in different pitches if he wants to make the most of his stint as a Rockie.

He showed glimpses of what he was when he was an Astro. That was when he was a premier pitcher in the National League.

With that said, he is not going to be the workhorse he used to be. He can only go six or seven innings. If he can do that, that’s a great thing.

It’s all about survival for Oswalt. He can’t get by with sheer talent anymore.

Being that he is a 35-year old starter, he is going to be a different pitcher. He has to rely on smarts to get out of jams based on his experience with the Astros and Phillies.

He could be successful based on the fact he pitched in the National League all years. He feels that’s the case, which is why he wanted to pitch in the National League.

The American League features many great hitters, and Oswalt does not have the stuff to get them out.

In the National League, there are many role players that are in the lineup, so Oswalt feels he can do well in getting guys out.

The Rockies have to hope Oswalt does well. They think he can be a difference maker by being an innings-eater and giving quality starts. They think he is it.

If Oswalt does not perform, the Rockies are going to be hard-pressed to find another starter that is effective.

Jeff Francis is in the minors, but that ship sailed about him being back in the rotation. He is not effective anymore after going 2-5 with a 6.58 ERA in 11 starts. Why would things change after he pitched at Triple-A Colorado Springs?

They are taking a leap of faith in Oswalt.

It remains to be seen how good he can be. Last night was a good start, but sustaining it is another question.

Oswalt can’t be a .500 pitcher. He has to win when he is out there every fifth day for this signing to work. He has to go seven innings in most of his starters. That’s the only way this signing is going to work out for the Rockies.

For Oswalt, this is it for him. If he struggles, he may have made his last Major League appearance. No team is going to want a 35-year old starter that is washed up.

This is a sense of urgency for him.

He knows that he can’t take it for granted when it comes to pitching in Major League Baseball anymore.

He wants to make the most of his opportunity, and he wants to enjoy every minute of it. This is his last go round.

He certainly basked in the glow last night after his first start. He was happy that it worked out for him, and he enjoyed pitching out there. For him, it was like his first game in the majors.

That’s the feeling an old player gets after spending some time in the minors to get a chance to get back in Major League Baseball.

He wants to keep this going.

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Rockies must trade for Nolasco to contend

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

The Rockies can’t be delusional to think their starting rotation is good enough for them to qualify for the playoffs.

They don’t have a starter that can dominate every fifth day, and they don’t have a starter that will go seven innings a start.

What they need to do is acquire an ace this summer if the Rockies want to be a playoff team.

To expect Tyler Chatwood, Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz to be an upgrade is too much to ask. They are pitchers that last five or six innings, and that’s it.

The Rockies need to find someone that is better, and that would be acquiring either Cliff Lee, Matt Garza or Ricky Nolasco.

Lee is going to be tough to get. The Phillies would ask for a ransom, and they are not in a rush to trade him since he is a free agent after the 2015 season. They can trade him in the offseason or next summer’s trade deadline.

Getting Garza or Nolasco is feasible since they are free agents at the end of the year, so there won’t be a ransom for either of them.

Nolasco would be the best option for the Rockies.

He can be counted on for quality starts. He has a better command when he is out on the mound. He goes seven innings when he is out there.

He is everything that a Rockie starter aspires to be.

He is the type of starter that knows he can win every fifth day. It’s that type of mindset that can make a difference in the Rockies’ rotation.

They should do whatever it takes to get him.

If Pomeranz is what the Marlins want for Nolasco, that deal should be made now.

As good as Pomeranz is, it remains to be seen if he has the mindset to pitch in the altitude. He certainly has the stuff, but one wonders if he can trust his stuff to pitch.

When he started last year, he was thinking too much, and he was nibbling rather than attacking the strike zone.

He hasn’t made progress the Rockies thought he would in spring training.

It’s interesting the Rockies are hesitant to call him up despite pitching well at Triple-A Colorado Springs. That speaks volumes.

If the Rockies don’t think he is a fit for them, there’s no reason to have him on the roster.

Maybe the Marlins feel Pomeranz can do well by getting out of Colorado. That’s why it would not hurt to ask them if their young starter is enough to get Nolasco.

Pomeranz certainly has the talent. He is young, and he can get better as he gets older. It would be a good risk to take for the Marlins.

Now, odds are good Nolasco would not resign with the Rockies as a free agent next year if he is acquired. He is going to want to be overpaid, and he wants to pitch for a World Series contender. The Rockies don’t fit that criteria for him.

So what?

The Rockies need to go for it here. Anytime a team has an opportunity to make the playoffs, they should go for it. It’s hard to get opportunities like that every year.

Once a team makes the playoffs, they have a shot to go to the World Series. The Rockies demonstrated that in 2007. Maybe if they get there this year, they can finish the deal by winning the Fall Classic.

That’s why there has to be a sense of urgency to get an ace.

By getting Nolasco, the Rockies would send a message to their players that they are going for it. That approach can fire the players up, and that would put pressure on them to play well. It’s something they would embrace.

By getting Nolasco, the Rockies would send a message to fans that they are about winning rather than settling for less.

With Todd Helton being in his last year, how about sending him off as a champion by getting an ace? It would be a nice sentimental reason to make a move.

By saying the Rockies think Chatwood and Oswalt can do well, they are hoping rather than feel good about their starters doing well. It’s no different than hoping Jon Garland can be an upgrade, and we all know that did not turn out well.

Rather than going for prospects and hoping for the best with projects, they should go for a proven starter that knows what he is doing.

It’s the best move the Rockies can do.

It has been a long time the Rockies made a big move.

The timing is right to do something.

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Bullpen showing signs of being overworked

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

It’s a problem when the Rockies’ starters don’t go deep in games.

The bullpen is getting overworked as a result, and it is starting to show in recent games.

Wilton Lopez could not protect a lead in the seventh inning last night, and as a result, the Rockies went on to take an 8-7 loss to the Phillies at Coors Field.

There’s no question Lopez was bad. He gave up a two-run triple to Freddy Galvis that tied the game at 7, and he gave up a single to Jimmy Rollins that scored Galvis from third to give the Phillies an 8-7 lead.

With that said, Lopez is not going to be perfect all the time. No reliever is. Not many relievers can be Rex Brothers and pitch well every game.

Blaming Lopez is missing the point of what’s going on.

The Rockies can’t find starters who can give the bullpen a night off, and that’s a problem moving forward.

If the relievers continue to be overworked, they are going to blow more games like last night.

Weiss did not want to use Lopez last night, but he had to after Juan Nicasio could not throw a zero on the scoreboard with a 7-2 lead in the sixth inning.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss hoped Nicasio would throw six innings last night. Despite his starter’s struggles in the sixth inning, he was hoping his starter would somehow get through the inning by getting out of jams. He got the first two outs, but he struggled to get the last out of that inning, so he was relieved before he blew a 7-2 lead altogether.

For Nicasio to not pitch through a 7-2 lead in the sixth inning, it shows he can’t be trusted to pitch in the sixth inning ever no matter how good he is pitching. Hitters figure him out, and he does not have other secondary pitchers to get hitters out for the second or third time.

Nicasio gave up three runs in that sixth inning, and that set the tone for the Phillies to make a comeback in the seventh inning.

If Nicasio pitched at least seven innings, Weiss could have brought Matt Belisle and Brothers to protect the lead.

It’s something he hoped to see from Nicasio and other starters often, but that’s never going to happen.

Outside of De La Rosa, no starter can go seven innings. This is a recipe for failure. It takes a toll on the relievers as their arm deals with the wear and tear.

It’s no coincidence Lopez, Josh Outman, Matt Belisle and Edgmer Escalona have struggled to get guys out late as a result of making too many appearances.

This is why everyone wonders if the Rockies can sustain their good play for the entire season. It’s hard to believe the relievers can be effective by August and September with the way things are going for them right now.

The Rockies have to hope Tyler Chatwood can go seven innings today and beyond. If he can do that, that will help the Rockies bullpen.

It can’t just be him, though. It has to be couple of other starters, and that’s why there has to be changes in the starting rotation. The Rockies need to find couple of other starters that can win and go deep in games.

They hope it’s Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz when the Rockies call them up.

Oswalt is a question mark, though. He has been ineffective in the last two years, and it’s hard to believe he can go deep in games anymore. The Rockies are desperate to hope he can get the job done.

Pomeranz has the stuff to be a dominating starter, but he needs to have the proper mindset to believe he can succeed. They have to hope he has it in him to be an innings eater when he is out there.

If Chatwood, Oswalt and Pomeranz can be effective by giving quality starts and throwing seven innings, the bullpen should be okay to pitch for the final two months of the season.

That’s what the Rockies are hoping for.

If that does not work, this team will not be making any playoff run.

The Rockies need to get better in the rotation or else we are going to see more bad performances from the relievers as a result of them being used often.

The organization knows they have to do something about it.

They have to hope changes in the rotation can save the bullpen from being exposed of overwork.

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Awful starts put Garland on notice

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

In the offseason, the Rockies searched for a veteran starter that would provide stability in the starting rotation by winning and doling out quality starts every fifth day.

They explored all avenues until they settled on Jon Garland to be that guy by signing him in the middle of spring training after the Mariners released him. They thought he would be the guy.

So much for that.

With Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz waiting to be called up from the minors, Garland could be losing his spot in the starting rotation after he struggled again in the Rockies’ 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks last night at Coors Field.

Garland gave up five runs on 11 hits in six innings as he took the loss. He had a hard time finding the location of the strike zone. He was giving up hits in every inning with the exception of the first inning.

This has been typical of him lately. He has struggled in his last four starts, and his ERA is 5.19 after last night’s horrible outing.

This is not what the Rockies envisioned when they signed him.

It is surprising Garland has struggled lately. He always had a good command when he is out on the mound. He is a wily veteran that knows how to pitch out of jams.

It was why the Rockies thought he was a good fit.

They also thought Garland’s sinker would be effective at Coors Field.

That hasn’t been the case lately. He is not getting the groundouts that would help him be effective.

Garland came up with an excuse in his start against the Cubs last week. He cited that it’s hard to be effective when he is on an innings limit. The Rockies take their starters out once they hit 100 pitches.

Garland feels that he has to think about throwing eight to 10 pitches rather than go out and be aggressive. He worries about pitch count rather than pitching on the mound.

That’s what pitchers say when they are frustrated. They come up with excuses for their struggles.

Garland’s job is to find the right spots to throw strikes. He is not getting it done. It’s surprising he did not blame Wilin Rosario for his control problems after throwing several wild pitches last night.

Garland can’t be making excuses in this situation. He has to pitch better, and he has to find his location.

Maybe it’s a mechanics issue with him. Something is not right.

The Rockies and Garland have to hope this is a bad stretch and nothing more.

They are going to give him a chance to figure it out. He has done enough to earn an opportunity to straighten the kinks.

Still, this is a result-oriented business.

If the Rockies can find someone else that can do better, that’s what they are going to do.

The problem is Pomeranz and Oswalt are no better.

Pomeranz has the potential to be an effective starter, but it remains to be seen if he has it in him to be a good pitcher at Coors Field.

Oswalt is washed up. He struggled in the last two years. For the Rockies to think he will be effective now, that’s laughable.

Tyler Chatwood could be a mainstay in the rotation if he pitches well, but he is a question mark. He has struggled to find his niche as a starter in the majors. He has a hard time finding the right location to pitch.

The Rockies have to hope Garland can get it together if they are going to win ballgames.

He is capable of pitching better. He showed that in April. There’s no reason to think he will fall apart altogether.

Keep in mind Garland hasn’t pitch last year, so he was going to have his down period this year.

The Rockies don’t have time to wait. They feel they have the right personnel to be a playoff team. They are going to do what it takes to win ballgames.

It’s hard to argue about their decision.

Garland is pitching for his job, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his next start is his last.

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