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Rockies unfazed by Anderson's spring woes

Almonte optioned; Hoffman, McGee struggle vs. Tribe
@harding_at_mlb
March 14, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If you take Tyler Anderson’s 7.88 ERA through three Cactus League appearances for what Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster says it’s worth, that statistic is worth the same as war. Not Wins Above Replacement, but “war” as defined by the singer Edwin Starr: “Good God, ya’ll, what

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If you take Tyler Anderson’s 7.88 ERA through three Cactus League appearances for what Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster says it’s worth, that statistic is worth the same as war. Not Wins Above Replacement, but “war” as defined by the singer Edwin Starr: “Good God, ya’ll, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.”

“Will you please put this in capital letters?” Foster asked. “Capital-N, capital-E, capital-V, capital-E, capital-R. I am never concerned about that guy.

"Never.”

The Rockies moved Anderson’s Friday start to the Minor League fields to give righty Peter Lambert, the club's No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, the opportunity Friday against the Royals at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. And righty Jeff Hoffman had two straight strong performances before a hiccup in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Indians, which saw him allow five runs in the final 1 2/3 innings of his 4 2/3 innings.

But Anderson, 29, can continue getting ready for the season with the confidence of Foster and manager Bud Black. Nothing has changed. The Rockies saw Anderson, whose path to the Majors was slowed by injuries, pitch a professional high 176 innings last season, make 32 starts and register a respectable 4.55 ERA.

There was a post All-Star break slump, but Anderson has a 3.25 ERA and .243 batting average against in five September starts. He also held the Brewers to one run and four hits in six innings of the Rockies’ 4-0 road loss in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

“He goes about his work as a professional, and he’s got a Major League changeup that changes everything, and enough fastball to keep them off of the changeup,” Foster said. “So I’m not concerned with Spring Training numbers. Performance, his strike-throwing with the fastball is going to get better. It has in the past.”

Almonte optioned
Righty Yency Almonte, who entered with runners at the corners and got an inning-ending strikeout in his last Cactus League outing, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday. Almonte had a 10.38 ERA in five Cactus League appearances.

McMahon passes bench test
Black carried second baseman Ryan McMahon to Goodyear as a reserve to see how he would handle hitting after sitting for a few innings. McMahon did everything asked of him (except bring the right jersey, which is why he wore No. 90) and finished with two doubles.

“We told him well before the game,” Black said. “Spring Training is the time for these things -- give guys a taste of what could happen in the regular season. For all players, you get in a National League game, with the pitcher in our league, there’s always an opportunity for those guys who aren’t starting – at least maybe two at-bats.”

Fastball goes AWOL
Jeff Hoffman relied on his changeup and curveball, but the fastball never gained consistency during the Rockies' 9-3 loss to the Indians on Thursday. He had some bad luck -- a fly ball that fell for a single to load the bases -- before Cleveland’s Jordan Luplow laced a fastball for a three-run double in the fourth. And Roberto Perez launched his worst curveball of the day for a two-run homer in the fifth.

“I think I’m in a really good spot,” Hoffman said. “My last two outings prior to this one were really good. I’m not going to sit here and harp on this one too much. I thought I did a lot of good stuff today. Obviously, we can minimize a little bit more giving up the runs. I’m going to keep going on this path that’s gotten me here. I feel like that’s going to give me the best shot.”

Relief inconsistency
Lefty Jake McGee struck out three in the sixth, but he gave up a grand slam to Daniel Johnson, the Indians’ No. 22 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Command of McGee’s fastball and his new slider are works in progress, but Black said McGee “velocity-wise is much better than a year ago.”

Righty Carlos Estevez pitched a scoreless inning, his fifth scoreless output in six games, but he faced traffic because of two walks.

“You’ve got to like the arm but you’ve got to evaluate every pitch -- how close is he to hitting the glove, are his misses on the correct side of the plate?” Black said.

Up next
Lambert will make his first ever Cactus League start on Friday when Colordao faces the Royals and right-hander Jorge Lopez at Salt River Fields. The game can be seen on MLB.TV with a 2:10 p.m. MT first pitch.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.