Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images
After a 3 hour rain delay that eventually led to a postponement, the Rockies played their series finale against Pittsburg in an early game on Monday. Unfortunately for the Rockies, the postponement erased an early 1-0 lead that they took on Sunday and took Chad Bettis off the mound. The final score of the rubber match would favor the Pirates and they won 6-3.
Replacing Bettis on the mound was Jordan Lyles and that was the first sign that the Rockies would probably lose this game. Lyles has been terrible in all but one of his starts this year, and was sent down to Triple-A in hopes that he could regain his confidence at the big league level. After Lyles was recalled to take the position of long reliever, he got chosen to get the spot start on Monday. He got through the first inning plenty quick, but started to struggle quickly thereafter.
The second inning saw the Pirates scoring two runs, but the bigger story of the inning was a scary moment for starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. With the bases loaded and in an 0-2 count, Lyles threw a fastball that rode in towards the head of Vogelsong and hit him right near the eye. It seemed to glance off the helmet first, but it did not make the moment any less scary. Vogelsong would be carted off and the Pirates would finish the inning with a 2-0 lead.
Jordan Lyles would continue to struggle in the third inning. He would again load the bases with two singles and a walk before an error with one out allowed two Pirates to score. On a soft ground ball to first baseman Mark Reynolds, Reynolds fired home and the ball was a little bit high. It skipped off of the catcher Wolters glove and two runners crossed the plate. The error was given to Reynolds, but the ball certainly could have been and should have been caught. Two more runs would score in the inning, all credited to Lyles, but Chris Rusin came on to finish the inning.
Rusin pitched much better than Lyles and was the only reason the Rockies had any chance of competing in this game. He pitched double the innings (4.2) and would allow three less hits (two hits allowed for Rusin). Rusin also struck out four and walked nobody where Lyles walked three. This game has to be a reality check for the Rockies that Lyles may not be a major league pitcher. Rusin has continued to show his usefulness as a long reliever and starter, but Lyles has only struggled this year and even struggled at AAA. He was called up mostly because of his experience as a major leaguer, but it must be questioned whether he was really deserving of the call up.
Of course no one was really expecting the Rockies to compete this year, so their decent start has only be a good surprise. But if they are to continue competing or if they are to compete in the future, they need starters to show up and pitch well. Lyles is not part of the future, but there are multiple other minor leaguers who are likely going to be cornerstones to this Rockies organization. Kyle Freeland and Jeff Hoffman are two top prospects for the Rockies who are both pitching fantastic in their respective leagues. It is only a matter of time before they are called up to join the big leagues, and in my opinion, the sooner the better as they will start to experience the big leagues and get some time under their belt before next year when the Rockies hope to be more competitive.
The Rockies continue this long stretch of no off days with a three game set against the Red Sox. The Sox have been hot and their offense has been absolutely crushing it, the Rockies pitchers will be up for a challenge and will get a great chance to show their worth.