The Coors Effect

September 9, 2009 12:12 PM

Young collects first career homer as Rockies win again

Eric Young Jr. has always been known for his speed, not his power.  But with Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Stewart both missing last night's game, Young picked up the slack.

In six seasons in the minors, Young only hit 26 homers, with seven coming this season at Colorado Springs.  Young's first career homer came in the bottom of the sixth inning and gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead.  That was after Young doubled and later scored on a Todd Helton sac fly in the first inning.

As has been the case all season, though, the Rockies' pitching was the key.  Jason Marquis pitched seven and a third, giving up one run and striking out seven to pick up his fifteenth win.  With likely four starts remaining this season, Marquis has a shot at setting the Rockies' record for wins in a season, currently 17 set by Kevin Ritz in 1996, and later tied by Pedro Astacio in 1999 and Jeff Francis in 2007.  And Franklin Morales pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his fifth save.  Morales has done an excellent job filling in for the injured Huston Street.

Morales presents an interesting question for the Rockies heading into 2010.  Will the Rockies attempt to move him back to the rotation, or will they leave him in the bullpen?  He has been highly effective out of the bullpen and could help nail down the late innings for the Rockies.  Huston Street should be back, and Rafael Betancourt has an option for 2010 that the Rockies would be well-advised to pick up, meaning that Morales could be part of a strong late-inning relief corps.  But with Marquis a free agent, the Rockies will have an opening in the rotation that Morales could easily fill (though that's dependent on the health of Francis; if Francis is healthy and effective, he will claim a spot in the rotation.)

It also could provide a blueprint for other young pitchers like Jhoulys Chacin.  The Rockies could put him in the bullpen in 2010 to get work in the majors, with designs on moving him into the rotation in 2011.  If Chacin is ready in 2010, but the Rockies don't have a spot in the rotation, he could be better off pitching out of the bullpen than back in Colorado Springs.  Look back a couple of years to the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright; he moved seamlessly back to the rotation after a year in the bullpen.

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