Unavoidable circumstances prevented the crack staff here at Dubsism from getting an update published after Moyer’s May 21st start in Miami against the Marlins. Moyer had nothing but good things to say about the 50th major league ballpark in which he’s pitched.
Too bad the outcome wasn’t as rosy. Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam off Moyer to cap a five-run fourth inning and Austin Kearns tied a career-best with four hits to amrk Moyer’s first appearance in the new Marlins’ park as yet another shell-job for the veteran lefty. The irony is that in his career Moyer was 8-2 in the Marlins’ former home, Sun Life Stadium. In the new park, even being staked to a four-run lead before going to work wasn’t enough as Michael Cuddyer had a two-run double followed by a Troy Tulowitzki two-run homer in the Rockies’ half of the first inning.
Moyer took his fourth loss of the season after serving up 5 earned runs on nine hits in only 3.2 innings of work, a span that saw Moyer struggle dealing over 100 pitches.
The sad part is the story still doesn’t get back to the “feel-good” nature Moyer’s improbable comeback gave us. To be honest, yesterday’s debacle in the sauna formerly known as Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati might be the point we look back to as the “the beginning of the end.”
Sadly, the baseball pablum in the Moyer story is giving way to an undeniable reality; the Rockies pitching staff is imploding, changes need to be made, and Moyer may be the odd man out.
Let’s look at some cold-blooded facts:
- The 1993 Rockies’ starting rotation compiled a team of ERA 7.03 ERA in May (remember Bryn Smith?) This collection of Rockies’ starters are in May 4-12 with a 6.24 ERA, and seems intent on reaching a new low.
- We know Moyer is the all-time leader in home runs allowed (522), but he has allowed 5 bombs in his last 8.2 innings pitched. He’s also allowed 13 earned runs in that same span.
- Yesterday, because Moyer served up four dingers, the Rockies hit five home runs and still lost.
- Conversely, this made Mat Latos became the first pitcher in the nearly 150-year history of the Reds to earn a victory after surrendering five home runs.
Here’s the reality. 46 games into the season, the case can be be made the grand Moyer experiment may be over. It seems the Rockies’ management may be redicent to see that, but in all fairness, they really don’t have any good alternatives at this point.
Jorge De La Rosa has been scripted as the ideal replacement for Moyer, as he would provide the “veteran presence” which has been the bellcow amongst the reasons for keeping Moyer in the rotation. The trouble is that De La Rosa isn’t ready yet; he got touched up for four runs on two home runs in 3.1 innings and 60 pitches in the first outing of his new rehab assignment.
There’s also a legitimate debate as to the readiness of Guillermo Moscoso. He laid a giant, steaming pile in his bombed in his two-start audition this month while filling in for the injured Jeremy Guthrie. This earned Moscoso a bus ticket back to Triple-A where he was told to “be more aggressive in the strike zone.” Since then, he has rung up a 2.45 ERA over his last four outings at Colorado Springs. But, is that a large enough sample size to know for sure?
The other young arm Moyer beat out for the starting job was Tyler Chatwood. But he’s also hurt, working through a triceps injury in Colorado Springs and is only to the point in his rehabilitation where he’s thrown a single simulated game. In other words, he’s farther away than either De La Rosa or Moscoso.
This leaves Drew Pomeranz. But he also struggled in his last start at Triple-A, and the Rockies seem bent on protecting the 23-year-old by keeping him on the farm until they see increased velocity from an improved delivery.
While Moyer may be the last best option in the short term, the Rockies need to address the long term concerns here. I get the fact Moyer has been an inspiration since arriving in Scottsdale for spring training. I defy you to find another outlet on the web which has been trumpeting the Jamie Moyer story for the past two years; since before the year-long absence due to Tommy John surgery, the comeback from which made him the aforementioned inspirational figure.
Having been on the Moyer story for the past two years, I can tell you with almost absolute certainty that if Moyer were the fifth starter on a good team, as he was during his Championship run with the Phillies, that good team would keep trotting him out there. After all, he’s the fifth starter.
But the Rockies aren’t a good team. Despite that, there’s also no question Moyer has done everything the Rockies have asked of him. But at this point, the Rockies need to do something before the situation gets desparate. The Rockies went 2-4 on the road trip while scoring 5.3 runs per game, and they have lost a league-worst 18 of 24 games in May despite scoring an average of 4.6 runs per game. The line-up is young and full of talent, yet there is also no question this abysmal pitching staff is wearing it out.
Here’s another hard reality. At this point, the Rockies need to be less about stop-gaps or last best options. They need to be about building toward the future; about building on pitchers who spell 2013 and beyond. Throughout his comeback, Moyer never wanted to be considered a novelty. He returned based solely on his love for the competition. Moyer may very well be invaluable to a young staff needing verteran guidance, but that’s what a good pitching coach does.
In a host of ways, Moyer is a welcome reminder of the past, of “old-school” baseball. To be honest, this run of his has been nothing short of heroic to a guy who is writing about a man six years his senior remaining as an effective major league pitcher. But the Rockies need to focus on those who can build their future, and as much as it pains me to say this, Moyer as a starting pitcher is not in that group.