SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies will start newly signed right-hander Kyle Kendrick on Opening Day in Milwaukee on April 6. Lefty Jorge De La Rosa -- the most productive Coors Field pitcher in club history -- will start the April 10 home opener against the Cubs, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
The Rockies solidified the plan by arranging for Kendrick to throw a 30-pitch simulated game on Wednesday, three days after his most recent Cactus League appearance. The side session put Kendrick -- signed for $5.5 million with incentives after eight seasons with the Phillies -- in line to start the opener. The Rockies are planning a formal announcement later this week.
While Opening Day is a coveted occasion, the Rockies were able to make the home opener special for De La Rosa, whose 45-14 record since 2008 at Coors means not only a club record for home wins but makes for the second-highest home winning percentage in the Majors at .763. Zack Greinke's .782, forged for the Royals, Brewers and Dodgers, is the Majors' highest home success rate in the last six seasons.
Many accomplished pitchers don't consider the Rockies because of hitter-friendly atmospheric and field conditions at Coors. But De La Rosa, who turns 34 on April 5, eschewed free agency and re-upped in September for 2015 and 2016 at a total of $25 million.
"He's certainly our poster boy for that," Weiss said. "He kills all the theories about pitching there. It is appropriate and we always feel good when he's on the mound, especially when he's on the mound at our place."
De La Rosa went 14-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 starts last year and was 30-17 with a 3.81 ERA in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and he is the clear leader of the staff. He was a candidate to get the season opener, but Weiss wanted to acknowledge the significance of the home opener. The fact De La Rosa was scratched from his first two spring starts with a sore left groin made it easier to arrange for him to start the home opener.
Kendrick, 30, was always the youthful touch on veteran staffs with the Phillies. But with the Rockies, he is the only one of the projected starters to have appeared in a postseason game. It was Game 2 of the 2007 National League Division Series -- a 10-5 loss to the Rockies during Colorado's magical run to its only World Series appearance. Now Kendrick is a leader in purple pinstripes.
"Kyle has been everything we thought he was," Weiss said. "He's very professional, very efficient on the mound. He's a veteran guy that's pitched in big games."