Black waiting to name starter for Sunday's finale
Manager OK with using pitcher on short rest for potentially decisive contest vs. Nats
DENVER -- The 11 strikeouts in a record-setting performance in Wednesday night's 14-0 victory over the Phillies might not be the last that Rockies fans will see of right-hander German Marquez during the regular season.
With the National League West or -- depending on how the three-game series against the Nationals starting Friday goes -- the NL Wild Card on the line, manager Bud Black has left the start in Sunday's regular-season finale open.
Lefty Cy Young Award candidate Kyle Freeland (16-7, 2.84 ERA) is scheduled for Friday night, against righty Joe Ross, and the Rockies have righty Jon Gray (12-8, 4.91) scheduled for Saturday.
Sunday could shape up to be a showdown with the season on the line, with not only the Rockies and Dodgers in the NL West, but the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals in the Central all vying for three possible postseason spots. And the Nationals, in position to play spoiler against the Rockies, could throw three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on regular rest in the finale -- but they have not announced starters for Saturday or Sunday.
As for the Rockies, the pitcher on normal rest would be righty Chad Bettis (5-2, 5.06), but on Tuesday Bettis threw just 33 pitches while making his first start in more than a month. Also, lefty Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.76), who was scratched Monday with a sore left shoulder, will throw a bullpen session on Friday to see when or if he would be available as a starter or a reliever.
But Marquez (14-10, 3.76) on three days' rest would be the Rockies' most-accomplished, most-stretched-out and healthiest option. Marquez tied a modern Major League record Wednesday by striking out the first eight batters, and his 221 strikeouts in 32 starts are a club single-season mark.
Asked about his philosophy about pitchers going on short rest in a key regular-season or playoff game, Black insisted it's no big deal.
"These guys are highly trained professional athletes that work every day at their craft," Black said. "Watching these guys like we do every day playing catch, throwing side sessions, what they do in the weight room, the training room, one game on short rest or a couple games on short rest is not anything that I think for me -- it's not physically demanding.
"In the case of our starting pitchers, for me, how I know them, it's not mentally demanding either. These guys are tough guys. They're tough, strong guys."