The Rockies have placed right-hander Tyler Chatwood on the 15-day disabled list with a mid-back strain, the team announced. Eddie Butler is slated to replace Chatwood in Colorado’s rotation, while righty Scott Oberg was called up from Triple-A to add some bullpen depth in a corresponding move to the DL placement.
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Chatwood suffered back spasms during his start yesterday and was forced to leave the game in the second inning. Rockies manager Walt Weiss told reporters (including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) that he hopes Chatwood will only miss the minimum 15 days, though he noted that “with a pitcher you’ve got to build them back up a little bit.” Some particular care could be necessary with Chatwood, who missed all of 2015 recovering from his second career Tommy John surgery.
Thus far, Chatwood’s return has gone very well. The righty has posted a 3.15 ERA over 82 2/3 innings this season, emerging as the ace of Colorado’s rotation. Advanced metrics (3.90 FIP, 4.20 xFIP, 4.42 SIERA) haven’t been as impressed with Chatwood, no doubt due to his good fortune with BABIP (.271) and strand rate (75.1%), as well as his inability to miss bats. Chatwood has just a 5.57 K/9 and 1.83 K/BB rate, though he makes up for that lack of strikeouts with a whopping 58.7% grounder rate. That’s an important skill to have when half your starts are at Coors Field, though Chatwood has the expectedly drastic home/away splits: a 5.10 ERA in seven home starts and just a 1.25 ERA in seven road outings.
Losing Chatwood for any length of time is a big blow for the Rockies, who have long struggled to find any consistent pitching help. If he misses any significant time beyond the 15-day DL stint, it could also impact Colorado’s trade deadline plans. The Rox fell to 32-36 after today’s loss to the Marlins, though they’re still only 4.5 games out of the last NL wild card spot. Given the rough overall state of their rotation, it’s likely the Rockies were going to focus on starting pitching anyway if they became deadline buyers. If Chatwood’s absence causes them to fall too far out of the race, however, the Rockies could instead look to sell.