LOS ANGELES — Juan Nicasio's warm-and-fuzzy story is quickly giving way to a cold-blooded reality. He left with a lead Wednesday night, but it's getting harder to make a case that he should remain in the rotation over Tyler Chatwood.
The hard-throwing right-hander benefited from strong run support and a lockdown bullpen as the Rockies won 7-3 at Dodgers Stadium.
Troy Tulowitzki, who missed two games with a strained left rotator cuff, provided a two-run double in the first and Carlos Gonzalez knocked in a pair with a shot to right-center. The relievers completed the seven-game road trip without allowing an earned run.
Nicasio needed a boost. Lacking fastball command and no out pitch, Nicasio labored, needing 92 pitches to record 12 outs.
His outings have coincided with offensive outburts, camouflaging his struggles. The Rockies have scored 29 runs during the 29-plus innings he's been in the game. Colorado has some options worth considering if it's decided Nicasio needs a minor-league refresher.
Jhoulys Chacin returns Sunday in the spot occupied by Chatwood, who could be kept in Nicasio's spot. Drew Pomeranz owns a 2.54 ERA in Triple-A and made another impressive start Tuesday night.
Turning point. That would be the first inning when Josh Beckett starred as a human DMV line. He looked, stopped, stepped off, called for his catcher. In the interest of the kids, Beckett and A.J. Ellis should really get unlimited talk and text to limit mound visits. Beckett was agonizingly slow, and ineffective. He lasted just four innings, allowing five hits, while walking four on 83 pitches. Tulowitzki swatted a double into left-center scoring two runs and signalling that their were no lingering effects offensively from Hyun-Jyin Ryu's dominance Tuesday
On the mound. Nicasio is demonstrating many of the traits that forced Pomeranz to the minors. High pitch count, and still-developing off-speed pitches. Pomeranz lost his spot in the rotation to Jon Garland. Will Nicasio follow suit? It's a fair question at this point with Nicasio averaging fewer than five innings per outing. The relievers provided a safety net, among them Josh Outman (two innings, one strikeout). They have allowed just three unearned runs in the past seven games.
At the plate. Gonzalez's 4-for-35 slump is a memory. He had five hits in his first 10 at-bats against the Dodgers. Michael Cuddyer put together arguably the game's most impressive at-bat, doubling on the 10th pitch from Kenley Jansen to knock in a run in the seventh inning.
What it means. The Rockies' recovery is on the fast track. They didn't win their 17th game or eighth road game until May 25 last season.
Upcoming Pitching Matchups
Friday: Rays' Matt Moore (5-0, 1.13 ERA) at Rockies' Jeff Francis (1-2, 7.29), 6:40 p.m., ROOT
Saturday: Rays' David Price (1-2, 5.21) at Rockies' Jon Garland (2-2, 4.65), 6:10 p.m., ROOT
Sunday: Rays' Alex Cobb (3-2, 2.55) at Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin (3-0, 1.46), 2:10 p.m., ROOT
Tuesday: Yankees' Hiroki Kuroda (4-1, 2.25) at Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa (2-3, 4.18), 6:40 p.m., ROOT