When a pitcher gives up a grand slam that left the hitter's bat at 122 miles per hour and broke part of the stadium when it landed, it's a pretty good sign the end is near for that pitcher -- especially when said pitcher is 49 years old. Two starts ago, the Rockies' Jamie Moyer gave up one such bomb to young Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton. If that monster shot didn't provide thudding punctuation to Moyer's time with the Rockies, his most recent start did. Yesterday, Moyer was designated for assignment, likely ending his time in Denver.
The Rockies' plan was always for Moyer to hold a rotation spot until June, when they hoped Jorge De La Rosa would be close to returning from Tommy John surgery rehab. Tomorrow is June. What the Rockies didn't plan on was Moyer being one of only two moderately reliable pitchers in the starting rotation, along with Juan Nicasio.
Yeah, the two best Rockies starting pitchers so far have been a guy who missed all of last year after Tommy John surgery and is close to receiving discounted movie tickets and a guy who almost had his career ended after a frightening neck injury last year. That tells you a lot about why the Rockies are dangerously close to the cellar of the National League West.
By designating Moyer for assignment, the Rockies have ten days to trade or release him. They will still be on the hook for the remainder of Moyer's $1.1 million salary. Moyer said he would like to pitch somewhere else this year, but his immediate plan is to attend his son's high school graduation.
In April, Moyer defeated the San Diego Padres to become the oldest pitcher to win a major league game. A couple weeks ago, he became the oldest player to drive in a run in a major league game when his dribbling infield single somehow plated two runs. His feats as a functioning old person were the lone bright spots in a dark early season for the Rockies.
Moyer was the best Rockies pitcher in April, posting a 3.14 ERA. But the heat or his inability to throw a pitch over eighty miles per hour caught up to the old fella; he notched an 8.64 ERA in May. In his last two starts, he gave up a combined thirteen runs. On Sunday, he couldn't hold a 5-0 lead over the Cincinnati Reds and gave up four home runs and seven runs in five innings.
Once Moyer started giving up home runs that broke the scoreboard, or those in which the batter wasn't even holding on to the bat (see below), it didn't make any sense to keep him in the rotation, especially with young arms waiting for their shot.
Former reliever Josh Outman will take Moyer's place in the rotation. He will likely cede that spot to Drew Pomeranz, who is in Triple-A working on his mechanics, or De La Rosa, who is working through forearm tightness on his way back from Tommy John rehab. The Rockies also recalled Carlos Torres from Colorado Springs to take Moyer's roster spot.
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Moyer registered some remarkable accomplishments in his time with the Rockies. He pitched in his fiftieth major league park when he got donged by Stanton and he has now pitched to 8 percent of players in major league history. Surviving the altitude to be the Rockies best pitcher for April might have been his most impressive work.
But if the Rockies are to brush the awful off themselves and reach some state of respectability, it's going to be on the arms of young pitchers. It's far from a foolproof plan, but it's the only one that makes sense for a struggling club with no elite pitchers currently on the staff.
Moyer's run was fun and admirable, but it always had kind of a side-show quality. He should take solace in the fact that he's about as badass as a skinny 49-year-old pitcher with graying hair can be. They don't make trophies for that, but it's something.
More from our Baseball archive: "49 things younger than 49-year-old Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer."