Roy Oswalt makes his first start for the Texas Rangers on Friday night, and he's doing it against a familiar foe -- the Colorado Rockies. Rangers fans, meanwhile, likely aren't as familiar with the Rockies as Oswalt is. To help us preview the final interleague series of the year, we've brought in Andrew Martin from Purple Row.
Jim Tracy announced he's going to a four man rotation, so this should be the first cycle through. How do you think the games this weekend will be affected by this switch, and what should Rangers fans look for out of Colorado's bullpen?
Look for our starters to go like 3-4 innings, maybe 5 if they're being especially efficient. The Rockies have placed a 75 pitch limit on the rotation. Next up is the long relief, which right now consists of Jeremy Guthrie and Guillermo Moscoso. They're on a 50 pitch limit, and if they hit it, they take 2 days off. The Rockies might look to someone like Carlos Torres to be part of that "long relief rotation". After that, you get to deal with Josh Roenicke, who's having a nice season, Matt Reynolds, Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle, and Rafael Betancourt. Belisle and Betancourt are the big names in the pen still, and they're still really good at pitching. Brothers has closer potential, and his K rates attest to that. His BB rates attest to the word "potential". Reynolds is more of a low-leverage LHP, but he generally does a good job.
Roy Oswalt has spent his entire career in the National League... until now. He's faced the Rockies a few times over the last few years -- what do you expect out of him on Friday night?
Cynically speaking, I'm expecting a 4-hit shutout. Realistically, it's going to be an interesting game. The Rockies offense has been home-heavy, but they've been hitting the ball... _decently_... between Detroit and Philadelphia. They're going to make Oswalt work. But I really don't know how much I trust the Rockies pitching corps to survive the Rangers lineup.
What's happened to the Rockies over the past few years? They've seemingly gone from legitimate contenders to cellar dwellers in not that long of a time -- why?
A lot of things have gone wrong in a lot of areas. Key injuries have happened, and the depth hasn't been good enough to replace a Tulo or a Cargo when they happened. Ian Stewart never panned out and got shipped out. Chris Iannetta never really put up the performances Colorado wanted to see. Top farmhands spend a lot of time injured in the minors (Greg Reynolds, Casey Weathers, Christian Friedrich). Basically, decent-not-great drafting that should have at least produced "OK" ballplayers produced nothing. Ubaldo Jimenez broke. Jim Tracy is not a good manager - and I base that on 2010 and 2011. Casey Stengel couldn't pull this 2012 team out of the cellar.
It all sounds like a lot of excuses, but it's been 2 straight years (not counting 2012) of "Nothing will give". Tulo and Cargo spent time on the DL. Todd Helton looked like he was done for again. Juan Nicasio took a baseball to the head and broke his neck. Huston Street got hurt and never regained form. Aaron Cook hit the skids. A lot of these things are to be expected, but the farm wasn't prepared to supply the replacements, and the ownership wasn't entirely prepared to make a major acquisition to replace or supplement the team, due to high dollar or prospect costs.
This has been the season where it appears time to move past our current management, but the ownership isn't the type to get rid of guys they like.
With Troy Tulowitzki out for awhile, who protects Carlos Gonzalez in the lineup, if anybody?
Michael Cuddyer, I guess. Next Question!
Who should Rangers fans keep an eye out for this weekend? Even in the worst years for teams, there's always somebody worth watching that is exciting throughout the year.
Watch Chris Nelson, Tyler Colvin, and Wilin Rosario. The former 2 have been killing it in the month of June, and Wilin Rosario is a catcher with a cannon for an arm and absolutely prodigious power, especially against LHP. Nelson looked to be yet another failed prospect (mostly due to injury history in the minors), and April and May didn't do anything to change that, but he's been killing it this June. Colvin was the same story in Chicago, injured after his rookie season and couldn't get it back together. Rosario had a major knee injury in AA, but he's holding down the starting role quite adequately right now.