Rockies reveal starters for NLDS vs. Phillies

BY foxsports • October 7, 2009

Rockies manager Jim Tracy confirmed Tuesday that Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook will start the first two games of the NL Division Series against Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday.

Then came the curve.

Tracy said right-hander Jason Hammel will start Game 3, scheduled for Saturday at Coors Field. He did not list a starter for a possible Game 4, though it appears most likely the nod will go to Cuban right-hander Jose Contreras instead of Jason Marquis, an All-Star selection who will open the Division Series in the bullpen, along with Contreras.

Tracy would not discuss any possibilities about Game 4 other than to say that the ultimate decision would hinge on numerous factors, which could include weather problems.

The Rockies made adjustments to the rotation when they decided left-hander Jorge De La Rosa would be sidelined by a groin injury. Tracy said team medical officials felt De La Rosa could aggravate the injury suffered in his start at Los Angeles on Saturday night if he tried to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. With that in mind, the decision was made that De La Rosa would not be available in the best-of-five series against the Phillies.

If the Rockies advance to the NLCS, Tracy said the decision could be reconsidered. De La Rosa, 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA, became the first pitcher since 1900 to lose the first six decisions in a season in which he won at least 16 games. The Rockies won 19 of De La Rosa's final 23 starts.

"If we are prudent about this and fortunate enough to advance beyond (the NLDS) he could factor into the mix. There is a good possibility that could happen.''

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Marquis was the Rockies' early-season savior. When they were 19-31, he had seven of the victories, and was 14-8 with a 3.47 in his first 25 starts. However, he struggled in the final weeks of the season, going 1-5 with a 6.25 in his last eight starts.

Contreras was acquired from the Chicago White Sox prior to the Aug. 31 deadline for finalizing potential postseason roster candidates, and has both started and relieved. He is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 17 innings over seven appearances.

Hammel, meanwhile, gave the Rockies a second-half boost. Acquired from Tampa Bay on the final day of spring training, and inserted into the rotation in late April, Hammel was 5-1 in his final 11 starts, compiling a 3.98 ERA. The Rockies were 8-3 in those games.

"He has earned the right with everything he did since the All-Star break," Tracy said.
"He pitched so competitively, you cannot ignore that."

Speed sells

The Rockies opted for the speed of rookie Eric Young, Jr., a September call up, on their NLDS roster instead of the defense of utility infielder Omar Quintanilla. Tracy said the fact that second baseman Clint Barmes is a natural shortstop, and that third baseman Ian Stewart can play second base made it easier to opt for Young, who is also a second baseman. The Rockies also kept the left-handed bat of veteran Jason Giambi, who was another September call up.

The Rockies kept two left-handers in the bullpen — Joe Beimel and Franklin Morales — along with right-handers Huston Street, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Daley, Matt Belisle, Marquis and Contreras.

Atkins to start Game 1

Garrett Atkins will get the start at third base in Game 1 over Stewart in light of the Phillies starting left-hander Cliff Lee. Atkins, who drove in 419 runs in the four years prior to this season when he lost the starting job to Stewart, has hit .292 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 48 at-bats at Citizens Bank Park. While Atkins hit .226 this season, he did hit .268 against left-handed pitchers compared to .178 for Stewart.

Stewart's strong defense, however, could lead to his returning to the lineup in Game 2 even though lefty Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies because Cook, one of the top ground ball pitchers in the game, will start for the Rockies.

Even with Atkins, the Rockies have a left-handed tint to the lineup. Switch-hitter Dexter Fowler will lead off and play center field followed by the left-handed bats of left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and first baseman Todd Helton. Tracy will then send up the right-handed trio of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Atkins and catcher Yorvit Torrealba followed by left-handed-hitting right fielder Brad Hawpe and second baseman Barmes, a right-handed hitter.

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