Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis stepped up and pitched pretty well for the Rockies who are looking to build their rotation around them for the 2007 season. 28 year old righty Aaron Cook was 9-15 with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 32 starts last year. Cook allowed too many hits as he allowed 242 of them in 212.2 innings last season but he only walked 55 hitters to minimize the damage. Look for Cook to win more games this season if he stays healthy as he had some bad luck in 2006. Look for him to win 12-15 games with an ERA of 4.20-4.75 in 2007.
26 year old lefty Jeff Francis had a good year in 2006 as he was 13-11 with a 4.16 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 32 starts. He held batters to a .250 batting average against him and he kept the ball in the park allowing only 18 homers in 199 innings. Look for Francis to be even better in 2007 as he will likely win 15-17 games with an ERA in the low 4’s.
31 year old righty Rodrigo Lopez was brought in by trade from the Baltimore Orioles. He was 9-18 with a 5.90 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 36 games (29 starts) for the Orioles in 2006. He allowed 234 hits and 32 homers in 189 innings last season and it’s pretty scary to think of what could happen to him in Coors Field. Look for Lopez to win 10-12 games with an ERA of 4.75-5.50 in 2007.
25 year old righty Jason Hirsh was acquired in the trade for Jason Jennings with the Astros. He had a rough time in 9 starts for the Astros as he was 3-4 with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. Hirsh was dominant in AAA ball last season as he was 13-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 23 starts in 2006. The Rockies will use Hirsh as their #4 starter in 2007 as long as he shows improvement over what he did with the Astros and there is no reason to think he won’t pitch better with the stuff that he has. Look for Hirsh to win 12-15 games with an ERA of 3.85-4.65 in 2007.
30 year old Josh Fogg was 11-9 with a 5.49 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 31 starts for the Rockies in 2006. He has won the #5 job in Spring Training for the Rockies but he might not hold it all season as batters hit .300 against him with 24 homers in 172 innings. Look for Fogg to win 8-10 games with an ERA of 5.25-5.75 in 2007.
28 year old righty Byung-Hyun Kim was 8-12 with a 5.57 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 27 starts for the Rockies last season. Batters hit .295 against Kim with 18 homers in 155 innings last season and those numbers will need to improve if Kim in going to continue to be a starter in the major leagues. Look for Kim to be trade bait for the Rockies as it appears that he will not make their final roster.
30 year old righty Brian Lawrence has been brought in by the Rockies as a free agent and he will be ready to contribute at some point in May or June. He missed all of the 2006 season while he re-habbed his injured arm. He has a 49-61 career record in 5 seasons with the San Diego Padres with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Look for Lawrence to bump either Hirsh or Fogg from the rotation when he’s ready.
25 year old righty Taylor Buchholz will likely start the season in AAA ball. He was 6-10 with a 5.89 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in 22 games (19 starts) in 2006 for the Astros. He has good stuff as evidenced by his .248 batting average against last year, but, he allowed 21 homers in only 113 innings. If Buchholz can learn to keep the ball down he’ll get a shot to join the Rockies rotation soon.
23 year old righty Ubaldo Jimenez pitched 2 games (1 start) for the Rockies last season and he was 0-0 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Jimenez was 14-4 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP in 26 AA+AAA starts last season. He also whiffed 150 batters in 151.2 innings in the minors. Look for Jimenez to start the season in AAA but he will get a call at some point in 2007 as long as he pitches well there.