Colorado Rockies starting pitching needs new blood

Aug 21, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black (10) gestures to starting pitcher Kyle Freeland (21) in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies strength coming into this season was supposed to be their starting pitching.

But it hasn’t been.

It always sounds strange to outsiders and more than a few locals but the Rockies’ strength for several years has been their rotation. Even back when the team was carried by superstars like Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, the advanced metrics show us that, when adjusted for Coors Field, it was the arms who did the heaviest lifting.

A slew of mostly young starters put that team in back-to-back postseasons and despite losing Jon Gray in the offseason, most of them remain on the team in 2022. 

However, German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, and Antonio Senzatela are all having remarkably substandard seasons. And while Chad Kuhl looked like a great pickup at first and Austin Gomber made a fantastic first impression a year ago, they too have struggled mightily of late.

Marquez, an All-Star a year ago and the guy with the best “stuff” by far brought a career 111 ERA+ into the year but is posting a career-low 88 this season.

Freeland, a legitimate Cy Young contender in 2018 who has an ERA+ of 113 for his career, is at 93 for the year. Senzatela has followed suit with his normal 101 dropped down to a 91 before sustaining an injury (ACL tear) that cost him the rest of this season and some of next. Gomber posted a 105 last season: it’s 82 now. 

Are we sensing a pattern?

Every single member of the rotation who was already a member of the team is having either the worst or second worst season of their career despite all of them being right in the middle of their physical primes.

Baffling to say the least, it’s fair at this point to start asking questions about coaching, and we’ve done that a few times here and will continue to do so. But we also have to wonder if there might need to be some roster changes in this department which is quite the turnaround considering how solid this unit’s numbers were coming into 2022.

With Senzatela out and a cavalcade of depth options that are showing to either be injured or not especially exciting, the Rockies may well be forced into a position where they have to address their rotation via a trade or free agency in the offseason.

Jose Urena doesn’t look like an answer to anything and just about every prospect who is actually close (Peter Lambert, Ryan Rolison, Chris McMahon) have all been hurt.

There’s not much time left in this season for Freeland, Marquez, and Gomber to show signs that they are going to turn it all around on their next campaign, though all have the ability to do so. These three are the key to the next two years for this team.

Colorado simply cannot execute any version of their philosophy if the starters can’t hold up. And they haven’t been holding up. If they perform, this team will have a fighting chance, if not, it’s two more years of the same. So, they could use some help.

It remains unwise for this club to be big spenders on pitchers, and we all know the reasons why. They have to pay extra and there’s a decent chance that, no matter how good he was before, he won’t be anywhere near that at 20th and Blake. There is a lot of history on this.

But there have been a handful of diamond in the rough moments for the team over the years and they may need to wade out into the desert searching.

Searching for the next Chad Kuhl… but maybe better.

Searching for the next Jorge de la Rosa.

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