NL West: Giants, D-Backs Juggle Rotations in Final Days of Spring

SCOTTSDALE, Az. – The Rockies like all six of their candidates for the five-man rotation.

How much?

Well, enough that manager Bud Black has said it is possible that whichever pitcher loses out in the battle for one of the five spots could well be a part of the eight-man bullpen. Not a bad idea. That would give the Rockies a legitimate long reliever but also could be mixed into the rotation, so the Rockies can again monitor the workload of their starting pitchers.

Not a bad situation for the Rockies in their bid to build off claiming the second NL wild-card a year ago and making only the fourth post-season appearance in their 25 years of existence. Jon Gray will start the regular-season opener against the D-Backs on Thursday, and the Rockies seem leaning toward filling out the rotation with lefthanders Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland, and right-handers Chad Bettis and German Marquez, leaving Antonio Senzatela to either start at Triple-A Albuquerque or open the season in the bullpen.

The Rockies kept Marquez in a similar role to start last season, although 10 days into the season, without having been in a game, Marquez was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to get work.

In the rest of the NL West:

Dodgers

The Dodgers rotation is set, but they will open the season without third baseman Justin Turner, the veteran influence among the players in their starting lineup, who suffered a fractured left wrist when he was hit by a pitch Monday.  Doctors have said Turner won’t need surgery. He’s still expected to miss the opening month of the season.

Logan Forsythe is expected to move from second to third during Turner’s absence with the Dodgers platooning at second base with left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and right-handed-hitting Enrique Hernandez.

Giants

The Giants suffered two major blows to the rotation this week. First Jeff Samardzija, after giving up two home runs in an inning of a minor league game on Thursday, was diagnosed with a strained right pectoral. He is headed to the disabled list for the first time in his career. It has been that kind of spring for Samardzjia, who in four regular spring games had a 1.64 ERA and allowed three home runs in an inning in each of the last two Major League games.

Then, on Friday, Madison Bumgarner suffered a broken left little finger on a line drive back to the mound. The initial report of Bumgarner will miss six to eight weeks.

That leaves Johnny Cueto as the only established starting pitcher in the rotation, which also includes Ty Blach and Chris Stratton, who were supposed to be the fourth and fifth starter but now find themselves right behind Cueto. The situation is such they are looking at signing Derek Holland, in camp as a non-roster invitee, to a big-league contract.

D-Backs

Patrick Corbin is now going to start the season opener against the Rockies at Chase Field, filling the void created by Zack Greinke, who came out of start last week with a right groin tightness. He threw 60 pitches in a minor-league game Wednesday, and the reviews were questionable enough that the initial hope he would at least be able to start Game 3 of the Rockies series were tempered.

Right fielder Steve Souza out until May with a right pectoral strain.

Padres

The Padres are encouraged enough with the recent efforts of Tyson Ross that he appears to have moved ahead of Luis Perdomo, Robin Erlin and Chris Young in the battle for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. Coming off a 2016 shoulder problem that resulted in thoracic outlet surgery, Ross was hit on the right forearm by a soft line drive Thursday but did pitch three strong innings after the incident.

Tracy RingolsbyComment