Rotation Setting Up

March 29, 2009 | 6:47 pm | 6  

Left-hander Franklin Morales had a solid effort on Sunday. He worked five innings, allowing only two hits, and then gave up a single and game-ending home run in the Rockies 7-6 loss to Oakland in Phoenix.

He appears to have locked up the fifth starter spot, too.

Greg Smith, Morales’ competition for the final spot in the rotation, started Sunday and couldn’t get out of the second inning. He came out with inflammation that flared up in his previous start and did not go away with rest.

Smith was sidelined two weeks earlier in the spring by a lengthy battle with the flu. Now it appears he is a likely candidate to go on the disabled list.

Morales would step into the rotation along with right-handers Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jason Marquis, and lefty Jorge De La Rosa.

What the Rockies will have to decide is whether to go with a five-man rotation from the start of the season, which opens April 6 in Arizona, use Morales in the bullpen initially to keep the other four starters on a regular turn or send Morales to the minor leagues to make two starts before calling him up to join the rotation April 21 in Arizona.

6 Comments »

  • Ryan | March 29, 2009 | 6:52 pm

    I’m glad to hear it. Last year, I was wondering whether Morales was lost forever. It’s good to see him rebound. If he can be as good as he looked in 2007, he and Ubaldo could be one of the best righty-lefty combos for years to come.

  • Zack | March 29, 2009 | 10:47 pm

    I know the radar gun isn’t everything, but Tracy, any idea what Morales’ fastball was topping out at today? I noticed Jeff and Jack commenting on him overpowering some good hitters including slipping a fastball past Holliday. Holliday is a pretty good fastball hitter, but I did hear them say it was on the inner half of the plate, and I do remember him being susceptible to up and in fastballs.

  • Tracy Ringolsby | March 30, 2009 | 9:11 am

    Zack, let me check and see if I can get that information for you. I would say, though, the velocity doesn’t matter if the fastball is overpowering. By that, I mean that pitchers can overpower with an average fastball depending on how they can located it, and how they change speeds. Knowing Morales, based off what was being said, my assumption would be he is back int he 94-96 mph range, but that’s just an assumption.

  • Zack | March 30, 2009 | 10:17 am

    Very true, and I know life on the fastball is equally as important. A straight fastball at 95 will still be hit hard by big league hitters, but the extra giddy-up allows for more mistakes and thats what I like about it. Morales’ fastball was down in the upper 80′s, maybe 90-91 last year and I think that didn’t help any when he made a mistake. Francis is a prime example of that, because when he is locating he is very good, but if he is off just a tiny bit he is hit pretty hard. Location and life on the pitches is primary, but still like to see the gun to see what a guy might be able to get away w/. Thanks for the answer.

  • Marcus | March 30, 2009 | 10:39 am

    Tracy, do you think the Rockies will throw Cook or Ubaldo on the Rockies home opener? Or am I going to have to watch DLR or Marquis make that start?

  • Tracy Ringolsby | March 30, 2009 | 11:40 am

    Marcus, Cook and Ubaldo are in line to pitch the second and third game of the Philadelphia series. They will start Games 1-2 in Arizona, which puts them in place for Games 5-6.

    With the Rockies planning to put Marquis between De La Rosa and Morales in the rotation, Marquis would be set to start Game 4. At this time, as mentioned last week, Hamels will make his 2009 debut in the Rockies home opener, although that’s very much in question. He is being pushed back to that game because of an injury that the Phillies are hoping is only minor.