NL West Notes: Lyles, Rockies, D’Backs, Headley

Offseason acquisition Jordan Lyles has forced the Rockies' hand with two strong starts early this season, writes the Denver Post's Nick Groke. Lyles was supposed to be ticketed for Triple-A to open the year, but an injury to Tyler Chatwood pushed him into the rotation. Colorado must now decide whether to stick to the plan or keep Lyles in the rotation. Indeed, the former Astro has a 3.86 ERA through his first two outings and is sporting a strong 55.9 percent ground-ball rate — a trait that I imagine is highly attractive to the Rockies, whose home field is known for home runs. Here's more on the Rockies' pitching staff and the NL West…

  • Groke's colleague, Patrick Saunders, writes that in the wake of last night's meltdown against the White Sox, the Rockies simply cannot afford to keep Wilton Lopez at the Major League level. Lopez, who struggled after coming over from the Astros before the 2013 season, was tagged for six runs on the strength of three homers while recording just two outs. Saunders writes that "it makes no sense to keep [Franklin Morales] in the rotation," suggesting that he should be jettisoned to the pen in favor of Lyles. Saunders also wonders how long the Rockies will wait to promote top prospect Eddie Butler, noting that the right-hander's hot start may tempt the Rox, but it likely won't happen until June.
  • Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said on the Doug and Wolf radio show in Arizona that while his team is not panicking over his its slow start yet, he is not afraid to make changes should the club fail to improve (Twitter link via MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez)
  • Brandon Hicks has gone from non-roster invitee to manager Bruce Bochy's preferred option at second base while Marco Scutaro is on the shelf, writes MLB.com's Chris Haft. Bochy says Joaquin Arias will still see some time at the position, but he's sticking with Hicks' bat, feeling him to be a comparable defender to Arias.
  • Chase Headley expressed to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince some skepticism about the "contract year" narrative in which players are able to elevate their game aprior to free agency. Headley adds that he considers every season a "contract year" in today's game, noting that unless a player has already signed an extension, he is "playing for [his] life every year." Castrovince examines the likelihood of a Headley trade this season with the Padres already reeling from another set of injuries to Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and Josh Johnson.

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