Which Rock­ies pitcher should start in a must-win game?

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - Groke: Groke: Groke: John Leyba, The Den­ver Post John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Hey, Pa­trick “Pe­can Saun­dies” Saun­ders, let’s re­visit a de­bate we had ear­lier this sea­son, be­cause, hon­estly, I need a do-over. Let’s say the Rock­ies are in a one-game play­off against the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs and ace Zack Greinke, or, in the fi­nal game of the sea­son, they need to beat the Los An­ge­les Dodgers and Clayton Ker­shaw to get into the post­sea­son. Whom do you start? Who is Colorado’s ace? It’s an evolv­ing ro­ta­tion, so the pool of arms might change. But as of now, who gets the ball? Saun­ders: “Nick­els,” FYI, we just found out that the Na­tional League wild­card game is sched­uled for Wed­nes­day, Oct. 4. Hope­fully there’s a base­ball party in LoDo that night. On the mound for the Rock­ies that night should be … drum­roll, please … rookie right-han­der Ger­man Mar­quez. That’s right, the young man with the fiery de­meanor and the knee-bend­ing curve­ball.

The Rock­ies’ young ro­ta­tion makes this ques­tion es­pe­cially tricky. Four starters are rook­ies. Two of them are 24, and two oth­ers are 22. Chad Bet­tis, when he re­turns, will be the old­est starter at 28. Tyler Chat­wood, 27, is now in the bullpen. Right-han­der Jon Gray is only 25. None of them has pitched in the post­sea­son. For man­ager Bud Black, it will be a gut de­ci­sion one way or the other. Is this a ques­tion of “who is the best?” Or should we be ask­ing: “Who is best suited for the pres­sure?” Saun­ders: Ide­ally, the pitcher would be a true ace — some­one who has the best stuff and also thrives un­der pres­sure. But the Rock­ies don’t have a true ace. That’s no knock on any­body. It’s just a fact. The truth is, we re­ally don’t know how any of them would re­act to the pres­sure of a one-game play­off. I’m sure Black has his own thoughts on the mat­ter, but it could come down to which team the Rock­ies are play­ing. It’s prob­a­bly go­ing to be Ari­zona, mean­ing Black could make his pick based on who has had the most suc­cess against the Di­a­mond­backs.

The Rock­ies’ best starter this sea­son has been rookie Kyle Free­land. He au­thored a near-no hit­ter in July. Mar­quez has been the best starter over the past month, ever since a benches-clear­ing in­ci­dent against Pitts­burgh riled him. But I’m go­ing to go with Gray, the fire­baller, for one pres­sured-packed game. He is their strike­out ma­chine. He missed a chunk of the sea­son with a bro­ken foot, but he is com­ing along strong. And he will be fresh down the stretch. The Wolf, Pa­trick. Let him loose. Saun­ders: Nick­els, I love The Wolf, too. When he’s on and the howls are com­ing over the loud­speak­ers at Coors Field, it’s cool. I would love it if the fans started to join in. But, I’m stick­ing with Mar­quez for one big game. Why? Be­cause I think his fast­ball is as po­tent as Gray’s, and I think his curve­ball has be­come a wicked weapon. But more than that, I love Mar­quez’s de­meanor when he’s on the ropes. When the go­ing gets tough, Ger­man gets tougher.

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