First, let's look at rookie righty Jeff Hoffman. He came up from Triple-A Albuquerque and displayed an explosive fastball and a solid curveball while beating the Dodgers on Thursday night. He could have mixed better the third time through the order, but there are worse things than confidence in the fastball.
Righty Tyler Chatwood and lefty Tyler Anderson are better than their 5.25 and 6.43 ERAs, respectively. Opponents' slugging percentage rises from .416 with the bases empty to .562 with them occupied because Chatwood is trying to do too much; his stuff is too good for that. The last two starts by Anderson have been, in order, outstanding and workable -- this, after some frighteningly poor work through six starts.
Meanwhile, Hoffman sits in wait. Not sure when the full-time run will come, but the standard the Rockies are holding him when grading pitch location, strategy and savoir faire tells me they want nothing less than front-of-the-rotation production.
It's hard not to be taken with Ian Desmond on and off the field. He handled being pushed to the outfield by Mark Reynolds' outstanding production with no complaint, and he has contributed after missing the first 25 games with a broken left hand (.304/.322/.446).
Two things I see:
• With Pat Valaika and Alexi Amarista able to play shortstop, the Rockies don't see the need to put Desmond in a position he hasn't played in a couple of years -- at a time when he is learning first base.
• If something changes -- for example, if Trevor Story's shoulder injury becomes a long-term issue -- it may not take more than a day or so of pregame ground balls for Desmond to relive his Nationals days (2009-15). But not for now.
@harding_at_mlb Valaika seems to be a man without position when everyone is healthy. Are Rockies high on him? If so, where would he fit when all healthy?
Used to be a time that "man without position" was an aspersion. But now and in future years, on a Rockies team with a four-man bench, it's an attribute. Valaika is showing that he can hit when pressed into extended playing time -- a feat Cristhian Adames (now at Albuquerque after being outrighted) couldn't master.
Story will need injury rehab time, which could allow his shoulder to heal and him to work out kinks in the swing. If Story displays power and improves his on-base performance, Valaika's playing time now could make him sharp for a utility role. The way Valaika is playing, manager Bud Black will find places for his bat.
Scott Oberg, who gave up two baserunners in a key situation on Sunday, hasn't been consistent. But he has generally been better in high-leverage situations (.167 batting average, .231 on-base percentage, .231 slugging) than medium (.375/.583/.625) and low (.250/.325/.417). Would like to see smoother performances.
The Rockies are putting efforts into developing Jordan Lyles (0-1, 7.94 ERA) as a reliever after removing him from the starting rotation last year. He can show flashes then disappoint from inning to inning, sometimes from pitch to pitch.
Oberg has Minor League options, and it really depends on what the Rockies see. There have been some difficult games, but usually not when protecting a lead. Carlos Estevez, also better with close scores than lopsided ones, was sent down to hone his delivery.
Lyles is out of options, meaning he can't be sent down without being exposed on waivers, and the 40-man roster isn't deep with relievers. Rayan Gonzalez is out for the season (elbow surgery) and Jairo Diaz needs more time in his comeback from elbow surgery and is not on the radar as he works at the complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Rockies hope Lyles finds a groove while pitching with a lopsided score.