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The Coors Effect


June 6, 2009 9:15 AM

Jorge gets first win of season

Despite four quality starts to his name -- plus another that would have been had he gotten two more outs -- Jorge de la Rosa had yet to record a win until Friday night.  While not the lights-out starter that he was for two starts in May, on a night when the Rockies offense gave him eleven runs to work with, Jorge was good enough to win.

It's probably no coincidence that both de la Rosa and Jason Hammel have turned in good starts over the last two nights.  Franklin Morales is due back soon, and both can see the writing on the wall: One of them will be going to the bullpen when Morales returns.

But it's not clear which one it will be.  The main point in Jorge's favor is that he's striking out more than a batter an inning.  And as we've seen, when Jorge is on, he's very on, giving the Rockies an excellent effort that spares the bullpen and gives the team a great chance to win (whether or not they actually do, of course, is another story.)  On the other hand, Jorge has lights-out stuff that would work well in relief -- in five relief appearances in 2008, he had a 2.25 ERA.  It's very possible that Jorge would be even more effective in relief, but given his, ahem, shaky mental makeup, placing him in high-pressure situations might not be the best idea.

Hammel has generally been fine as a starter this year, though he's had a couple of clunkers this year mixed in with quality starts.  He was effective as a reliever earlier this season, and fairly effective in Tampa Bay's bullpen last year.

I think the Rockies will ultimately send Hammel to the bullpen.  Jorge's upside is so great that the Rockies are better off leaving him in the rotation and dealing with the clunkers that we know he's good for every once in a while.  On the other hand, Hammel, even when he's been on, has only been mildly effective.  Jorge already has two starts this season in which he's posted a Game Score better than Hammel's best of 63.  (The flipside, of course, is that he also has two starts worse than Hammel's worst.)

There's the outside possibility that the Rockies will place Morales in the bullpen; but in a season where it's becoming increasingly clear that the Rockies aren't going anywhere (even if the team improves, the Dodgers have built a virtually insurmountable lead in the West, and there are too many solid teams in the East and Central to think about the wild card), the Rockies will probably go ahead and throw Morales every fifth day.  And that's part of the argument for Jorge as well.  If the Rockies were contenders, in a race where potentially every game matters, Jorge's maddening inconsistency would be a terrible thing, and the Rockies might want to go with a more consistent pitcher with less upside -- Hammel.  As it is, though, the Rockies are playing for 2010 at this point, so they might as well see if Jorge can work out his inconsistency.

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