Prior to dropping three of four games to the Seattle Mariners, the Colorado Rockies had not lost a series since the end of April. Against Seattle, the Rockies fell out of first place in the National League West for the first time since May 2. Now tied with the Diamondbacks and just a half game clear of the Dodgers for tops in the division, the Rockies face some pressing questions regarding their pitching staff.

Ace Jon Gray has been out since April 12 after sustaining a stress fracture in his foot. However, the opening day starter is in the process of ramping up his rehab, and his return could come within weeks.

Inconsistent performances from starters Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood have limited their success this season, and Gray’s return will likely be accompanied by changes to the staff. In the series against the Mariners, both Anderson and Chatwood allowed six earned runs in five innings or less of pitching, en route to two losses. On the season, both of their ERAs are north of 5.00, and they are the only two Rockies starters with losing records.

Former Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh joined Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 this week to offer his opinion on what the team should do when Gray returns.

“I think the most logical option would be to throw somebody in long relief, whether that’s Anderson or Chatwood, and let them work out their kinks if they’re still having them at that point,” Hirsh said. “Unfortunately that’s the downside of having options if you have to be that flex guy.”

Hirsh also shed some light on something that professional organizations do to navigate their way around struggling players.

“A lot of times we have something called the ‘Phantom DL’ where [a team] kind of fakes an injury just to allow a guy some extra time to feel some things out. It allows the team to feel things out, it allows the rotation to play itself out. Most likely that will be the case if either one of the Tylers is still struggling at that point,” Hirsh suggested.

In addition to Gray’s return from injury, the Rockies are also being pressed by Jeff Hoffman‘s success. In his two starts with the Rockies this year, Hoffman is 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA, 17 strikeouts and just two walks in over 13 innings of work.

Meanwhile, the struggles of reliever Jordan Lyles have been well-documented. If he, and other Rockies relievers are unable to turn things around, Hoffman may be the logical option in the bullpen.

“[Lyles] just doesn’t look like he’s super comfortable right now. Maybe that’s a slot that is better suited for Jeff Hoffman to come up and allow the Rockies to slowly work him into the rotation,” Hirsh said.

Whichever direction they decide to go, the dilemma the Rockies are facing is a good one. Having extra pitching options could be the difference maker for the club as the season continues.

“This is a great thing for the Rockies to have this [glut] of pitching and to have this problem,” Hirsh said. “It’s not like years past where they were digging at the bottom of the barrel or looking for 12-year veterans who are just trying to get their last paycheck. I envy what Buddy Black and Steve Foster are trying to manage right now, and so far it has worked out for them.”

Listen to the full interview with Hirsh, including his analysis of Anderson and Chatwood’s struggles, in the podcast below.

Sorry – this audio content is no longer available.

Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.