The Colorado Rockies announced on Wednesday that ace Ubaldo Jimenez will start the season on the disabled list.
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That is bad news for the club no matter how you slice it. Jimenez started the All-Star game for the National League and won 19 games a year ago. Replacing him is impossible.
Filling his spot in the rotation will be former first round draft pick Greg Reynolds. Reynolds was scheduled to start for the Sky Sox on Opening Day on Thursday at Security Service Field, but will instead will fly to Pittsburgh to start in Jimenez's place on Saturday.
The fan reaction has been as expected. Many fear that the Rockies losing Jimenez will greatly hinder their chances to get out of the gate quickly, something that has been a big focus for the club.
However, the reaction to Reynolds getting the replacement starts has been more surprising.
Reynolds has taken a brunt of criticism over the course of his career due to the fact that he was picked 2nd overall in the 2006 draft, ahead of third baseman Evan Longoria and two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, to name just a couple.
While Reynolds certainly is not worthy of the same conversation as Lincecum, he still deserves a shot.
The right-hander made his Major League debut in 2008, with the Rockies in the midst of a disappointing season in which they failed to quiet the critics who claimed their World Series run the previous season was a fluke. In 13 games, Reynolds posted a 2-8 record with a 8.13 ERA.
There is no denying that those numbers are terrible, and something that Reynolds would probably like to forget. He was sent back to Colorado Springs, for more seasoning, then dealt with an injury plagued 2009 and 2010 after being the Opening Day starter for the Sky Sox in '09.
It may be easy to want to write off Reynolds, but the circumstances of his '08 debut need to be considered.
The Stanford graduate was called up directly from Double-A. Without the benefit of throwing a single pitch at the Triple-A level, he was asked to step into a struggling rotation in early May of '08 and resurrect the expectations that the club had coming into the season.
That is a tough task to ask of any rookie, but consider the fact that Reynolds was just 23-years old, and was less than two years removed from the day he was drafted.
In addition to being young and inexperienced, Reynolds may be being judged on too quickly upon his numbers alone.
Reynolds certainly struggled—a 2-8 record with an ERA above 8.00 is horrible. However, what rookie hasn't struggled in the big leagues? Is 13 games enough to judge a 23-year old kid trying to prove that he is worthy of being in a Major League rotation? Throw in the fact that nine of his 14 appearances came at Coors Field, a place where even after the humidor was installed is still known as a great hitters' park.
Considering the circumstances, it may be too quick to write Reynolds off as a bust at this point.
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