When the Rockies acquired Jordan Lyles from the Astros in the Dexter Fowler trade this offseason, baseball experts viewed him as a filler to complete the transaction. The Rockies did not expect much from him after they viewed him as a project at best.
It was clear the Rockies did not think much of Lyles when they picked Franklin Morales over him for the fifth spot of the starting rotation. Never mind Lyles outpitched Morales. Not only did Lyles not make the rotation, but he was sent to the minors because he had minor league options.
Lyles was scheduled to start at Triple-A Colorado Springs until Tyler Chatwood suffered a hamstring injury for running for a triple in the final week of spring training. The former Astro replaced Chatwood for couple of starts, and he has a shot to be in the starting rotation for good after allowing a run and five hits while striking out four in 6 2/3 innings in the Rockies’ 8-1 victory over the White Sox last night.
With Chatwood coming back on Sunday, the Rockies need to make a decision on Lyles quickly. It will likely come down to what Morales does tonight against the White Sox. How’s that for an irony about Lyles replacing Morales after losing out to him in spring training?
With the way Lyles pitched in his first two starts, it will be hard for Rockies manager Walt Weiss and the Rockies braintrust to tell him he will not be in the starting rotation.
It’s two starts, but when a pitcher has done good enough to stay, there’s no reason to take him out of the rotation. It’s not like Morales is anything special. Remember he was in the Red Sox bullpen last year. With the Rockies having issues in the bullpen, it makes more sense to have Morales in relief.
Lyles wasn’t happy to start in the minors. He thought he was good enough to start, and he certainly used his two starts as an opportunity to show the Rockies made a mistake not having him in the rotation. If he didn’t vow anyone in his first start, he certainly did last night.
Lyles hit his location well with 60 strikes to show for it, and he worked fast. He used his sinker and slider to keep the White Sox off balance. He retired the first seven batters of the game, and he did not give the White Sox a chance to have a big inning. He had 10 groundouts.
He was so economical that he threw 78 pitches after six innings until he threw 24 pitches in the seventh inning. With him laboring at 102 pitches, Weiss felt it was time to take him out and leave the game on a good note.
Lyles made it look easy on the mound. He pitched like he knew what he was doing. He pitched like he belongs in the majors with how he had everything under control. What stood out was he did not overthink. In other words, he was the anti-Drew Pomeranz.
Not only was he great on the mound, but he was great at the plate. He had career-high three hits and two RBIs. His double drove in DJ LeMahieu for the Rockies’ second run of the game. With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, his base hit drove in Wilin Rosario to extend the Rockies’ lead to 5-0.
If his pitching does not convince Weiss that he should be in the majors, maybe his hitting will. Either way, Lyles certainly proved his point.
The fans expressed their satisfaction with the 23-year-old righty’s performance by giving him a standing ovation when Weiss took him out in the seventh inning. The standing ovation might as well send a message to the Rockies to keep him in the majors.
It will be interesting what the Rockies do with Lyles. Decisions like that are not easy, and it’s not as simple as it sounds. They want to make sure he is ready to pitch in the majors, and they don’t want to yo-yo him from the minors to majors. They want to develop pitchers properly.
It’s two starts, so the Rockies want to make a proper decision. They will think long and hard about Lyles unless Morales pitches awful tonight.
This is not the position the Rockies thought they would be in. They figured Lyles would be okay to the point they would send him to the minors outright.
They guessed wrong on him.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter