With the season less than a week away, the Colorado Rockies Opening-Day pitching rotation is becoming more clear by the day. The ball club now has three of their five starters locked in. Still, there are decisions to be made and competitions to be completed at the bottom of the rotation.
Right-handed pitcher Kyle Kendrick will get the starting nod on Opening Day against the Milwaukee Brewers and lefty Tyler Matzek will take the mound for the home opener on Apr. 10 when the Chicago Cubs visit Coors Field.
Colorado signed Kendrick away from the Philadelphia Phillies to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million in the offseason. The Rockies’ opening day starter registered a 3.98 ERA with 12/5 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings of work in the Cactus league.
Matzek showed promise down the stretch as a rookie last season. However, the 24-year old posted a 6.00 ERA this spring. His biggest issue for Matzek is figuring out how to consistently bring his best stuff to every start. When he is on, he has proven he can shut lineups down.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss confirmed to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post on Wednesday that Jordan Lyles will start the Rockies’ second outing. Lyles has excelled this spring – going 2-0 with a .086 ERA over 21 innings. After posting a career-year last season, the 24-year-old is primed to take another step forward in his second season with the Rockies.
That leaves just the third and fifth spots in the rotation open. One of the remaining spots is that of veteran left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa – who is expected to start the season on the disabled list with a groin injury. The other was presumed to be Jhoulys Chacin’s until the Rockies released their homegrown talent last week. Chacin is coming off an ugly season in which he went 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA and wasn’t showing any signs of improvement in the Cactus League.
The Rockies acquired right-handed pitcher David Hale from the Atlanta Braves this offseason and he was a leading candidate to earn a starting job until he strained his oblique on Mar. 25. The young pitcher is now expected to begin the season on the disabled list alongside De La Rosa.
Thanks to the proceeding injuries and departures, promising young righty Eddie Butler is expected to be in the rotation to start the season if he can recover from his most recent shoulder complications in time. The injury raises red flags after he missed a big chunk of last season with a rotator cuff strain.
According to Saudners, Christian Bergman and Chad Bettis are the only other remaining pitchers in the hunt to join the Opening-Day rotation. Depending on how Butler progresses, there will either be one or two spots left available for them.
Bergman went 3-5 in 10 starts with 5.93 ERA for Colorado last season.
Bettis has been up and down from the minors this spring but is sporting a 2.77 ERA with 10 strikeouts and four walks over 13 innings with the Rockies. New pitching coach Steve Foster has been working with the 25-year-old to improve his mechanics.
Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.