Jorge De La Rosa came back from Tommy John surgery with a vengeance in 2013, although his new groundball tendency came at the cost of his strikeout totals. That helped him keep his homeruns allowed down drastically, and he was a better pitcher at home than on the road. If he can generate strikeouts at even a seven per nine inning rate, and still maintain his control, he could be a fine sleeper pick in mixed leagues, or a late middle round pick in NL-only leagues.
Starting Pitching Rotation Analysis
Potential Rotation Alternatives
ADP designated by * indicates no reported ADP as of date of publication. Projections are based on a compilation of several sources (ZiPS, Oliver, Steamer, RotoChamp), given equal weight.
Jorge De La Rosa has been named the Opening Day starter, with Jhoulys Chacin going to the DL to start the season. Coming back from Tommy John surgery, De La Rosa was a steadying influence on the Rockies' staff, and was particularly effective at home. He posted 16 wins with a 3.49 ERA in 2013, and had improved control, which helped keep his ERA low. His strikeout totals took a hit, however, with the rate dropping to a poor 6.01 K/9 in 2013. He is worth a late round pick, if anything, in mixed leagues, and worth a shot in a NL-only league based on his performance last season.
Brett Anderson was acquired from Oakland, with an eye to providing a left-handed strikeout presence in the Rockies’ rotation. Moving from Oakland Coliseum to Coors Field will not hurt his production immensely, given his high GB/FB ratios (3.21 and 3.04 over the last two seasons). The big concern is his tendency to get hurt and miss time, but if he puts together a full season, he should be a solid contributor for the Colorado pitching staff, and is worth a late flier in most drafts.
A 58.5% GB percentage will play well at Coors Field, and that’s what Tyler Chatwood provided in 2013. His strikeout per 9 inning ratio leaves something to be desired, however, settling in at an unacceptable 5.34 in 2013 (5.71 in 2012). His control is also suspect, and that will lead to an inflated set of peripherals while pitching in Denver. Pitching to contact and having less than average control will come back to bite Chatwood in 2014, and I am urging you to avoid him until he proves himself to be a dependable back of the rotation option.
Juan Nicaso was not exactly impressive in 2013, but he’s looked good in the spring this year. Nicasio’s erratic control lessens his value, even as it pushes up his early inning pitch count (an anathema to those of you who employ quality starts over wins in your stat categories). Nicasio still has a decent fastball, but a 2 MPH loss in velocity between 2012 and 2013 is disturbing. I don’t see him lasting in the rotation, especially if the Rockies stumble early and start bringing up prospects in the middle of the season. Avoid him except in NL-only leagues, and even then, use caution when starting him at home.
Franklin Morales has been impressive early on this spring, but I expect him to be assigned a bullpen role once Chacin returns from the DL. His past injury history is not working in his favor in terms of fantasy relevance, and while he has a decent fastball, I would avoid him on draft day, even as a middle reliever.
Jordan Lyles boasts a great GB/FB ratio, and that could play well in making him an option to make the Rockies’ rotation as the fifth starter, especially with the Chacin injury. His 2013 FIP demonstrates that he pitched better than his stats show, but realize it was still a very elevated 4.72. Even snagging the fifth starting position does not make him a palatable fantasy option, except for streaming options.
Christian Friedrich has apparently recovered from his back spasms that cost him most of 2013, but expect him to start the season at Triple-A once camp breaks. He needs to work on his control and basically continue his development after missing a significant part of the 2013 campaign.
I might be convinced to take some Colorado starting pitchers late in drafts, but not in a league where I need peripheral support or strikeout numbers, with the exception of Brett Anderson. If you are in a NL-only league, however, you should consider some of the groundball pitchers discussed above, and start them judiciously, depending on their home/away splits.
If you disagree with my assessments, or just want to discuss starting pitching, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I enjoy comments and am more than willing to engage in discussion about fantasy baseball, so feel free to write.