As Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this week, the Rockies are looking to add a starting pitcher. This should surprise nobody — the club was an easy last place in the majors in both ERA and FIP last season, and even adjusting for Coors Field leaves them 28th and 26th (last and second-to-last in the NL) respectively in ERA- and FIP-.
What did surprise me was who their target should resemble:
The team wants to add one more capable starting pitcher, major-league sources say — someone who could throw 150 to 175 innings and produce a ERA in the 4.50-4.75 range. Someone like right-hander Josh Fogg, who pitched for the Rockies in 2006-07.
In 60 starts and one relief appearance over the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Fogg allowed a 5.22 ERA, good for a 107 ERA-. The excerpt said the Rockies wanted 4.50-4.75 ERA, but that’s about right given the decline in offense since Fogg left Colorado. Christian Friedrich‘s 4.63 FIP resulted in a 104 FIP- and Drew Pomeranz‘s 4.83 FIP resulted in a 108 FIP-, so there’s the range for Fogg’s 2006-07 performance translated into today’s game.
Fogg was a below average pitcher during his time in Colorado, to be sure, but there’s a place for pitchers of his ability at the back of rotations, especially when they can throw 150 or more innings per season. It was that durability that made Fogg one of the better pitchers Colorado has employed in the last seven seasons. Out of the 81 starting pitcher seasons in Colorado since 2006, Fogg’s pair ranks 21st (2006) and 28th (2007) by WAR.
The Rockies won just 64 games last year, but there are a few reasons for optimism. Troy Tulowitzki played just 47 games. Jorge De La Rosa is healthy entering camp. Solid rookies Wilin Rosario and Josh Rutledge are slated for more playing time. Juan Nicasio is returning to the rotation after microfracture surgery limited him to just 11 starts last season.
Colorado’s rotation was an utter debacle last season, and even thought Jim Tracy‘s four-man rotation idea seemed a little harebrained, it was mainly the result of the lack of even back-end guys like Fogg. The situation strained the bullpen and likely hampered the development of young pitchers like Pomeranz and since-traded Alex White.
The Rockies still aren’t likely to reach the playoffs — PECOTA sees them as a 74-win team with a five percent chance at the playoffs. They shouldn’t give up a substantial asset for a mediocre pitcher. But right now they have more position players than they have at-bats to give them, and if a guy like a Chris Nelson or Jonathan Herrera — one who isn’t likely to find much playing time in Colorado anyway — can bring them a cog to help keep their rotation together, it’s at least a deal worth thinking about.