Sure, Ubaldo Jimenez is a great pitcher and Jorge De La Rosa was one of the most coveted left-handers on the market behind Cliff Lee, but who else would the Rockies turn to to help them nail down wins?
Over the course of the first week of the Major League Baseball season, the Rockies have shown that they are not just a team that will outscore their opponents.
On Thursday, it was Esmil Rogers' turn to show why he belongs in a Major League rotation. After giving up back-to-back hits to open the bottom of the first inning, Rogers settled down and allowed only one run and four hits over 7.1 innings. The righty was more than just good. He dominated the Pirates' lineup, striking out seven hitters and making fans wonder why they were worried about him.
Rogers, who can bring the heat, was mixing in off-speed pitches that kept the Pirates off balance all afternoon.
The performance, coupled with the outing that 23-year old Jhoulys Chacin had on Thursday, should go a long way to show the rest of the league that the Rockies are more than just a bunch of sluggers trying to muscle their way to wins.
Rogers had a good spring, but by no means was the fifth starter job handed to him after Aaron Cook broke his finger. He beat out Felipe Paulino, Greg Reynolds, and John Maine to earn the spot. Despite earning his spot in Scottsdale, his position could be considered fluid due to the talent behind him. His good showing on the mound on Thursday is a step towards cementing himself in the rotation.
The next question mark will come when Reynolds takes the hill on Saturday, replacing Jimenez on the roster. Reynolds had a good spring himself, but faces the question marks of a poor rookie showing in 2008 and an injury-plagued 2009 and 2010.
The pressure will be on Reynolds after Rogers' performance. When Jimenez returns to the club, only one of the two will be able to stay in the rotation.
On Thursday, Rogers did everything he needed to ensure that his name is called every fifth day.
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