The biggest question coming into the 2012 season for the Colorado Rockies was: How will the starting rotation hold up?
So far, the performance of not only the starting pitching, but now an overworked bullpen, has fed right into the critics' den.
This team desperately needs consistency in the rotation. No matter who steps on the mound to begin a game, the Rockies can’t even use said pitcher as an advantage. The offense hasn’t been able to count on any starting pitcher.
What makes the lack of pitching support even more frustrating is that the Rockies are third in the National League with runs scored. They have the offense needed to take hold of the NL West, but until this team can at least count on one consistent starter, they will once again surrender the division.
No one in the rotation has stepped up to fill the role of an anchor, even though the position is open.
Jhoulys Chacin was the leading candidate in many fans’ eyes to step up, but he has had an abysmal start to the season. Chacin was recently optioned down to AAA so he can work on his command issues, which has been a disturbing struggle that Chacin can’t seem to figure out. Chacin hasn’t even made it past the fifth inning in five starts this season.
Juan Nicasio is another young pitcher with the potential to lead a rotation if he can develop strong pitches outside of his fastball. Nicasio had two great starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he only allowed three earned runs combined, but his last outing against Atlanta shows he is still not consistent enough to be the ace this team needs.
At the beginning of the 2011 season, the Rockies finally had their ace to lead them on a World Series run. Ubaldo Jimenez had been labeled the ace, but he could never get back to the level he was at during the first half of the 2010 season. Thus, Jimenez’s career in a Rockies uniform ended with a trade to the Cleveland Indians.
The trade brought two of the Indians' best pitching prospects, Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, to Colorado. Both White and Pomeranz have the potential to become the ace of the rotation, but so far, neither of them has been able take the lead.
Drew Pomeranz has spent the season within the Rockies' rotation and has shown the most promise to become a true ace. Pomeranz’s last three starts have been very encouraging, but he needs to continue his recent success to take lead in the rotation.
If there is ever a doubt about the importance of pitching to a team’s success, just look at the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are 14th in the National League in runs scored, but because of their pitching, they are sitting at the top of the NL East.
The pending return of Jorge De La Rosa has been narrowed down to June. Sure, maybe De La Rosa is just the man for the lead role, but the concern then is: Will the season already be too far gone by the time De La Rosa makes his season debut?
If De La Rosa can duplicate the success he had last season, he will still need help from others in the rotation.
Nothing has changed—the Rockies' season hinges on the performance of the starting rotation. This rotation needs an identity.
So, will the real ace please stand up?