'I am who I am': Rockies' Lambert fighting for starting spot

February 17th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Last year, Rockies right-hander reached the goal of becoming what manager Bud Black called a “regular, normal pitcher” again. Now Lambert’s job is to prove his normal is exceptional enough to earn him a spot in the season-opening rotation.

Between Lambert’s 19 starts his rookie year (2019) and last season, his two starts covering 5 2/3 innings at the end of 2021 were his only Major League appearances. Tommy John right elbow surgery in 2020 was the culprit. But last year, the Rockies eased Lambert back into action, first in the bullpen and then in the rotation.

Lambert went 3-7 with a 5.36 ERA in 25 appearances. His best work came in his 11 starts -- 4.50 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 14 walks in 56 innings. His home ERA in 12 Coors Field outings was 6.44. But he achieved a 3.72 ERA in four home starts – not bad when graded on the Coors curve.

The Rockies announced right biceps tendinitis when they shut him down on Sept. 16. Also playing a factor was the fact that Lambert had thrown a combined 109 innings with the Rockies and at Triple-A Albuquerque – right at the innings budget that had been set to make sure he was healthy after such a long layoff.

“I was happy with a lot,” said Lambert, who turns 27 on April 18. “I hadn’t pitched consistently since 2019, so it had been a while. I was super-happy to be pitching, doing what I love to do. I had a little success, and that helps your confidence.”

As he settled into starting, Lambert progressed in smoothing out his delivery – an area that Rockies coaches tried to address even before the injury.

“There were a couple of things with the delivery, mechanics-wise,” Black said. “For me, there was a little bit too much effort. I think he understands that being under control, having good rhythm, good tempo, not overthrowing will help. That had been my message to Peter – his stuff is plenty good enough.

“Secondly, pitchers are always experimenting, trying to add to their arsenal, trying to make certain pitches act differently. Peter tried to do too much with his stuff. If we simplify it, he’s got four quality pitches. He understands the spin he has to create, his release point, his arm slot. I don’t think Peter is tinkering as much as he was in the previous 12-18 months.”

The rotation still has depth issues. But Lambert and other rotation competitors returning from last year – primarily Ryan Feltner and Noah Davis, with lefty Ty Blach leading the non-roster challengers – arrive with more experience than last year.

Lambert enters Spring Training knowing what he can offer.

“I’m 26, about to turn 27; I am who I am,” Lambert said.


Righty Germán Márquez will not return from Tommy John surgery until after the All-Star break. But he was able to ramp up activity slightly on Friday.

“I threw 20 pitches with the catcher in front of home plate – I was on the rubber,” said Márquez, whose “short bullpen” Friday was his first since the injury. “Next week is going to be an easy week. I’m not going to throw bullpens or anything like that, then I feel I’m going to throw a real side session – in two weeks.

“I’m planning [to return] in July or August. But today, I was excited to be out there with the guys.”

Márquez hopes for his first game action, either at the Scottsdale complex or with an affiliate, in either April or May.


Righty Cal Quantrill, obtained in a trade with the Guardians in November, said he is impressed with the dedication of his teammates and is eager to converse with them for tips on making his pitches work at altitude.

Black said Quantrill can be equal parts tutor and student.

“It’s his third organization now,” Black said. “He’ll pick up some things from us that will help him. Conversely, we’ll learn from him, too. What are some of the things he was able to glean from San Diego, from Cleveland – which is a really strong pitching organization. It works both ways.”

“He’s cerebral. He’s a conversationalist. He’ll add to the group. I’ve already heard that, talking to Kyle Freeland, talking to Austin Gomber and other pitchers.”