Franklin Morales Bringing Heat, Providing Late Inning Boost for Colorado Rockies

Tyler ThompsonCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2009

DENVER - JULY 24:  Relief pitcher Franklin Morales #56 of the Colorado Rockies delivers against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on July 24, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Giants defeated the Rockies 3-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Frankie says relax.


When Huston Street went down with a right biceps injury last week, things looked bleak for the Colorado Rockies bullpen. That was before Franklin Morales stepped in to provide the Rockies with a 97 mph backup plan.


In 2007, Franklin Morales coupled with Ubaldo Jimenez and single-handedly gave the fledgling Colorado Rockies the pitching spark the team needed to make a serious playoff run.


This year, with Jimenez emerging as one of the best young pitchers in the league, Morales has also reappeared for the Rockies.


The 23 year old has spent the last two months racking up dominant innings in relief, whipping out 97 mph fastballs from the left side of the mount and confounding hitters at every turn.


Since being called up from AAA-Colorado Springs in early July, Morales has put together an ERA of 2.77. A respectable but not overwhelming statistic, the number is colored by two games in August when the lefty gave up two and three runs respectively.


Outside of those two outings, Morales has given up only two earned runs since his call-up and has maintained his status as one of the unsung heroes of Colorado’s pen.


The bullpen, at one point in the season the biggest knock on the Rockies playoff chances, has surfaced as one of the team’s strong points. General manager Dan O’Dowd bolstered the unit by trading for veterans Rafael Betancourt and Joe Beimel before the trade deadline, moves that solidified the seventh and eight innings.


But neither pitcher was chosen as the team’s closer when Street couldn’t pitch last week. It was Morales who got the call, not surprising considering the fact that he has finally began putting the finishing touches on his dangerous repertoir.


Last season, Morales pitched horribly for Colorado. He opened the season with the Rockies, but managed only a 6.40 ERA in five starts with the team, walking more than six batters per nine innings and only striking out 9 total hitters.


Morales’ poor play last season was a blow to the Rockies, who were relying on the fireballing lefty to take a step forward and fill in one of the later spots in the rotation.


After his first five starts, he didn’t see major league action until April of 2009 and only then for a couple of appearances.


Now, Morales appears to be here to stay. Whether he moves into the rotation next season or stays in the bullpen where he’s had so much success will be up to Rockies management.


For the next couple of months, however, he knows his place – coming in to face tough lefty outs for the playoff push and tossing 97 mph bullets down the center of the plate.


Says Manager Jim Tracy, “If it's 97 and thrown in a good place, it's hard to hit. It gets on you in a hurry.”


When Morales comes into the game, Frankie says relax.


Try telling that to opposing hitters.