The Rockies’ starting pitching has, rather predictably, been a major weakness in 2023, with their rotation’s collective 5.94 ERA ranking 28th in the Majors. Colorado starters have baseball’s second-lowest strikeout rate (17.4%), seventh-highest walk rate (9.5%), third-highest HR/9 mark (1.85) and the third-fewest innings (141). Even at full strength, the Rockies’ rotation never looked like a strong group on paper, but they’ve now lost top starter German Marquez to Tommy John surgery and have already released Jose Ureña after he was trounced for 22 runs (20 earned) in 18 1/3 innings. Rookie right-hander Noah Davis recently landed on the injured list as well, thanks to a bout of elbow inflammation.
Given those struggles, it’s hardly a surprise that general manager Bill Schmidt plainly acknowledged to Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette that his team will explore the current crop of free agents for some potential rotation help. “Last year at this time, we picked up Ureña,” said Schmidt. “We’ll look at the free agents available and try to improve our depth.”
Colorado is expecting the return of righty Antonio Senzatela on Friday, when he’s set to make his first big league start since tearing his ACL last year. He can give them a boost over the production they’ve received to date, but Senzatela himself was struggling at the time of his injury last year, having posted a 5.07 ERA with a career-low 13.1% strikeout rate in 92 1/3 innings. He’s allowed 10 runs (seven earned) on 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings on a rehab assignment in Triple-A.
Senzatela, who’s in the second season of a five-year, $50.5MM extension that runs through the 2026 campaign, will join left-handers Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber as well as righties Ryan Feltner and Connor Seabold in the Rockies’ starting mix when he returns. Freeland and Feltner have both been solid through six starts apiece, but Gomber has been tagged for a 7.57 ERA in six turns while Seabold has been pitching in relief but will likely get some starts following the recent injuries and Urena’s release.
As for potential help on the open market, options are scarce — as one would expect this time of year. Madison Bumgarner was recently released by the D-backs, though his struggles in Arizona were significant and his velocity is down several miles per hour from his Giants peak. Julio Teheran opted out of a minor league deal with the Padres yesterday, though he’s had a tough start to his season in Triple-A. Alternatively, the Marlins designated southpaw Devin Smeltzer for assignment earlier in the week, so he could be available via a small trade or waiver claim.
All three of those pitchers are at least already stretched out and largely game-ready, which is more than can be said for a number of their peers who remain unsigned dating back to the offseason (e.g. Chris Archer, Mike Minor, Michael Pineda, Anibal Sanchez). The Rox could still add anyone from that group, of course, but they’d likely need to build up at extended spring training and go out on a minor league assignment before being an option at Coors Field. Internally, righty Peter Lambert is being handled carefully after pitching just 30 1/3 innings from 2020-22 due to injuries (including Tommy John surgery). Former big leaguers Logan Allen and Josh Rogers are out to shaky starts in Triple-A, as are upper-level minor leaguers like Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell.
It’s a thin group all-around, to say the last. Schmidt tells Allentuck that the Rockies attempted to add more depth over the winter but were largely unsuccessful. It’s a difficulty the Rockies face every year. Free-agent pitchers are generally averse to signing to pitch at altitude, and even Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque plays in an extremely hitter-friendly setting. That could make it difficult to lure in further depth right now, but if the Rox are willing to offer a 40-man spot to someone like Teheran when other clubs aren’t, he’d very likely opt for the big league opportunity over another minor league pact.
I admire their delusion. Most teams in their position would just say “Ok, we lost, we give up.” But the Rockies? Well they just keep trying. They’re like the Middle East. Always killing the guy in charge and then saying “Yeah, this new guy’s gonna get it right.”
Ouch. Sassy take. But funny.
You’d think they Kuwait a little longer before they acted so rashly.
The Colorado Iraqis
The great thing about baseball is that typically even the worst teams win at least a third of the time. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your product. Colorado is just a pitcher or two from hanging with SF for fourth.
Keuchel at thus point in his career in Colorado might be a little entertaining. Not because he’d be good, but because it might be impressive to see how many home runs he’d give up.
Archer, Minor, Pineda, and Sanchez…..what is this, 2014??
Ownership believes .500 is still in sight. You’ll just need this microscope and these night vision goggles.
Montfort is delusional if he still thinks .500 is reachable, .400 will be tough.
Let’s be real. The Rockies front office doesn’t have a clue. Those of us who have faithfully followed this team have seen SP over the years like Kennedy, Marquis, Gray, Ottavino, Kahnle…. and several others who were not offered extensions and could pitch at Coors Field. It’s so frustrating when players are willing to stay and the Rockies don’t make it happen. They draft pitchers and very few make to the majors. Let’s just hope who we have on the roster can stay healthy.
They kept these to guys though, Marquez and Sentenzela. Though the latter looks like a 4-5 starter, but when your pitching is that rough, they’d be ok with that.
If you were so faithful, shouldn’t you know that Ottavino and Kahnle were relievers, not starters. Kennedy came back to Earth after his good year pitching for the Rox and was traded. Gray was offered multiple extensions and still decided to leave. Marquis had a career year and never came close to reaching those heights again. His ERA went up a lot pitching in Washington the next year.
Thanks for the correction hiflew, I got ahead of myself. Yes Ottavino and Kahnle were set men and could have been closers, my mistake. Like you said though Marquis had a career year, so why let him go? It’s just frustrating following this team everyday and not seeing the success of 2007-2010 era.
This is like watching a movie you’ve already seen. You know what’s going to happen. 6 kids are going to spend the night in a haunted house, even when the house tells them “Get Out!”.
They refuse to rebuild. They refuse to trade good players, even when they are obviously leaving. Then they sign an aging player hoping that this will make up for all their other mistakes.
The business feels like it is constructed around keeping their fan base by trying to be close to .500, instead of risking their fan base by tanking and rebuilding.
You bring up a good point, so here’s my question – clearly the FO has no plans to rebuild under any circumstances. Have the Rockies EVER been through a rebuild?
Colo is the last place bumgarner should go.
Zach Plesac headed to Colorado for cash
Please Zach, don’t go!
He’d probably have an ERA of 7 there. Can’t get outs with no stuff in Colorado.
Cards have Hudson in Memphis he was goid before he had the
I see Hoffman has been released again because of wildness, but he is striking out everyone he doesn’t walk. What have we got to lose, at this point?