DENVER -- In its 24th season as one of MLB's top hitters' havens, Coors Field has wreaked havoc on many confident pitchers' demeanors. Not 24-year-old Padres rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi, who made his third career start in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Rockies and pitched six strong innings to earn his
DENVER -- In its 24th season as one of MLB's top hitters' havens, Coors Field has wreaked havoc on many confident pitchers' demeanors. Not 24-year-old Padres rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi, who made his third career start in Tuesday's 5-2 win over the Rockies and pitched six strong innings to earn his first big league win.
"Feels awesome, feels great," said Lucchesi, the Padres' No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline. "I had a beer shower downstairs. Pretty cold."
After striking out DJ LeMahieu to open the first, Lucchesi had a throwing error to first base on a Chris Iannetta comebacker to the mound, letting him reach safely. Lucchesi struck out Nolan Arenado, but missed his spot to Trevor Story, giving up a two-run homer to right field.
"I thought that was a bad pitch," Lucchesi said. "I was trying to go low and away, and I cut it middle-up. I realized that I needed to focus up and hit my spots, and that's what I did."
Lucchesi retired seven in a row after Story's homer, and he didn't let another runner past first. The left-hander allowed four hits and a walk, while striking out eight over six-plus innings.
"It's fun to watch him pitch," manager Andy Green said. "He competes, he's not afraid, throws his pitches with conviction and stays incredibly focused the whole game."
It was Lucchesi's maturity that impressed Green the most, especially his ability to recover after a rocky first inning.
"It happens to a ton of guys who make an error in the first inning," Green said. "You see that a lot with younger guys. They make an error, and they don't turn around and make a perfect feed later on in the game to turn a double play that was crucial. He did. He did those things very well. You have to enjoy watching him pitch. He's pretty exceptional."
And Lucchesi impressed the opposing Rockies as well.
"He's a little bit funky," Colorado manager Bud Black said. "There's some deception to his delivery. He kept the ball away from us. He made us reach a little bit. He's got a good curveball from a guy who's tall, has a higher arm slot, a fastball with angle, a good hook with angle and a change. And he threw strikes."
Pitching his first game at hitter-friendly Coors Field, Lucchesi said he treated the game like any other.
"I thought it was going to be really freezing, but luckily, my day was a bit warmer than yesterday," Lucchesi said. "I didn't ask about it. I just came here and said, 'I'm going to do my job.' The balls were more slippery than usual, and I needed to get rosin every other pitch, it felt like. It helped out with my grip, and I was able to hit my spots."
The combination of Lucchesi's stuff and confidence on the mound is making an impression on teammates and rivals alike.
"You just love the demeanor more than anything else," Green said. "That's what you end up believing in. He just keeps focused. He's locked in. If something goes bad, it doesn't bother him. That in itself is incredibly valuable, but the stuff really plays, too. The deception's there. It's uncomfortable at-bats. It's awkward for guys. All those things add up to a good-looking young pitcher."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.