7 Creative Ways to Fix the MLB's Worst Pitching Rotation
“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.” -Albert Einstein
Props to Rockies fans who continue to watch different train wrecks with different faces, as seemingly no pitcher can halt the Rockies reeling starting cast. The numbers rank among the worst in the league in numerous categories, prompting some Rox fans to cover their faces while at Coors Field.
The bagged heads idea is ingenious. It serves not only as a sign of protest, but it shields you from witnessing one of the worst starting rotations in league history. The brutal outings makes watching TLC cross your mind. And such a nauseating lineup of toddler pageants, polygamous marriages, and terrifying surprise births is really saying something.
Pitchers have been shuttled up and down from the minors, others have been cut, and others traded. Nothing has worked.
The coaching staff adopted an entirely new pitching system, which hasn’t paid dividends. Jim Tracy continues to give hopeless, depressing postgame interviews night after night. The Rox would likely call in the services of Matt Foley, if available.
What can be done to improve Colorado’s MLB-worst pitching staff?
Create a Time Machine
Let’s give the Rockies a little leniency on this issue—they are rather young.
Aspiring stars Drew Pomeranz and Alex White are toughing out some difficult road bumps in their respective young careers. The Rockies have high hopes for the two highly regarded talents, and Pomeranz in particular appears to have all the tools to succeed at baseball’s highest level.
Christian Friedrich was stellar in his first few professional starts, but has since leveled off. The crafty lefty is the old man of the group at age 25. The three all show an occasional flash, the big step is developing a matter of consistency. Aside from the trio, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin have also shown potential. Nicasio was arguably the best on the staff before a nagging knee injury shelved him for the year.
Hopefully this lesson in extreme patience pays off in the long run, or else Colorado will have wasted even more time on another busted pitching experiment.
Build Multiple Versions of the Six Million Dollar Man
Let’s give the Rox a little more leniency—injuries have ravaged an already suspect rotation.
Jorge de la Rosa has not seen the field in over a year due to a devastating Tommy John surgery, and Juan Nicasio’s numerous injuries have stalled his progression. With those two in the lineup, Colorado would have likely never strayed from the standard 5-man rotation.
Although the pitching shortcomings are well documented, there is certainly a silver lining if you peer deeper into the abyss. Hypothetically speaking, if all players are ready for the start of 2013, Colorado could trot out a five-man front of de la Rosa, Nicasio, and Francis, with Pomeranz, White, and Friedrich battling over the last two spots. The lineup isn’t frightening by any means, but it offers much more stability than this year’s cast.
Trade for a High Profile Pitcher
The 2013 free agent pitcher class looks bleaker than the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes fallout.
There are some keepers, but the Rox aren’t likely to get involved in bidding wars. Therefore, if the Rockies want a top end pitcher, they’ll have to acquire one via a trade. The Rox do have some enticing trade pieces, ranging from established major leaguers to slick prospects.
If desired, O’Dowd could certainly pull some strings and bring in a standout like James Shields of the Rays or Josh Johnson of the Marlins. The contracts of both hurlers are winding down and their respective teams have already entertained trade offers. In addition, a bona fide ace on the roster could be a tremendous learning experience for the Rox young staff. Exposing Pomeranz and White to the hands-on brilliance of a top starter may add a great deal to their progression.
However, such a development is highly unlikely. Dan O’Dowd has made it clear that CarGo and Tulo aren’t going anywhere, and Colorado is so enamored with its prospects it may balk at the thought of dealing a guy like Nolan Arenado. Ever since the Mike Hampton-Denny Neagle disaster, the Rox have avoided blockbuster pitching acquisitions like the plague. So since this scenario is unlikely, there’s a much more reasonable Plan B…
Bring Back Jamie Moyer
Since splurging on a free agent is extremely unlikely, the Rox will likely take the mentor route. Jamie Moyer was essentially released from Colorado in late May, and has been unimpressive in minor league stints for a handful of clubs since the setback. Moyer may very well retire by the end of the season, and the 26 year veteran would be a tremendous guiding light to the numerous young guns on the Rox staff.
Ex-major leaguers are commonly found in the front offices and on the benches of several MLB clubs, but Colorado is an exception to the formality. Former pros in the clubhouse may not guarantee improvement, but bringing on one of the longest tenured and most resilient players in baseball history is a low-risk, high-reward situation.
Moyer’s experience and expertise would be a rare yet cherished asset of any organization. Plus, it’s a near guarantee that he won’t humiliate the franchise by running rampant on Colfax Avenue.
Put Dinger at Second Base
Despite never digging into the batter’s box or fielding a ground ball, Dinger is one of the most reviled figures in Colorado Rockies history. The cartoonish dinosaur frays the nerves of Rox diehards and irks even the most welcoming of senior citizens. It’s about time we give him the chance to redeem himself.
Since the Rox infield is currently loaded with prospects trying to find their groove in the majors, it wouldn’t hurt to let Dinger try out at second base for an inning or two. He wouldn’t be a contributor to the team; he would be used purely as a distraction.
Imagine Dinger simply standing in the second base position, exhibiting zero emotion. No flamboyant dancing, no head spinning, just a slumped, stationary, multicolored dinosaur parked in the middle of the infield. His dark, empty eyes would peer into the very souls of opposing batters and haunt the dreams of fans tuning in from out of market areas.
If the stunt works for just a handful of innings, it will be considered an enormous success. If not, the purple pinstripes would have probably lost the game anyways. The Rockies will take any help they can get.
Banish the Pitch Count
Quality starts from starting pitchers are rare. In the extreme condition the top guy is experiencing a good night, why limit him to the 75-pitch maximum?
Colorado is still experimenting with a four man rotation (or as O’Dowd eloquently tabbed it, the paired pitching system) but every starter for the time being appears to be nothing more than a lab rat. Exposing a pitcher to a 100 pitch game and giving him an extra night off is not out of the ordinary—it’s the norm at the major league level.
Either way, you don’t want your highest prospects becoming comfortable with a strict pitch count if you want them to develop into a staple of the rotation.
Despite the claims from the front office, there’s no way the Rox are intent on making the paired pitching system a permanent ploy. There are currently seven players combined between the current roster and the pipeline who have started a game this season, so it’s not like the Rox would be short on options if they decided to award a hurler an additional day of rest.
It worked for Pedro Cerrano. Can it work for the Rockies?
Baseball is possibly the most superstitious sport around. Jason Giambi is the Rockies’ token oddball. The longtime slugger dons a gold thong to break out of hitting slumps, and the endearing garment made its rounds through the locker room when “The Giambino” was a part of the New York Yankees. The Rockies haven’t publicly been too superstitious, even though some baseball traditionalists would relate the humidor to a form of witchcraft.
Voodoo in the clubhouse wouldn’t have been popular when Clint Hurdle was around. Hurdle maintained a very professional, almost religious-like locker room. However, the former skipper is now on the east coast and Jim Tracy is at the helm. Since Tracy's arrival, Colorado has become an increasingly private club. In-house activity hardly ever makes it out of the doors and into the hands of the media. Maybe voodoo is being used as an experiment, after all. If that is the case, you have to wonder what happened to Dan O'Dowd. The longtime GM has been MIA for the past several weeks.