The Rockies' plans for the starting rotation are in flux, after losing Chatwood to a right calf strain and losing another lopsided game, 9-3, to the Mets. The right-hander was placed on the 10-day DL on Sunday, replaced on the active roster by Ian Desmond, who was activated after recovering from his own right calf strain.
"We have some ideas," manager Bud Black said. "But with the Chatwood situation, things might change."
Plenty has already changed in the last month for the Rockies, and not much of it has been good. They lost 13 of their last 18 going into the All-Star break, and they've extended the slide to 15 losses in 20 games after two bad nights at Citi Field.
Chatwood was well aware of the club's need for a good start, and he said that's why he tried to keep going when he felt something in his calf midway through his pregame warmup in the bullpen.
"As a competitor, you never want to say you can't go," Chatwood said. "I knew we needed innings, and I was trying to provide that. I didn't do a good job of it."
He provided the Rockies with just one out, and also with an early 4-0 deficit. He provided his team with just 19 pitches, 14 of them balls and one a strike that Jay Bruce hit for a three-run home run.
Chatwood also left the Rockies with a question, because they can't be sure how soon he'll be ready to pitch again. Black suggested that a plan to move rookie Kyle Freeland temporarily to the bullpen to ease the wear on his arm may now need to be scrapped.
"We'll look at [Chatwood's calf] in the morning," Black said. "But as you know, calf strains can be a little tricky."
This one was tricky for the Rockies, in part because Chatwood didn't say anything about it until the game had already begun. Black said he didn't know about it until pitching coach Steve Foster went to the mound after Chatwood began the game by walking Michael Conforto and Asdrubal Cabrera on nine pitches.
Chatwood continued, getting Yoenis Cespedes on a fly ball but then leaving a 1-0 fastball in the middle of the plate for Bruce to crush. When the righty followed that with a four-pitch walk to T.J. Rivera, Black went to the mound along with assistant athletic trainer Scott Gehret.
They allowed Chatwood to throw a few practice pitches, but Black quickly decided to make a change.
"It became apparent he couldn't fight through it," Black said. "He wanted to continue. He thought he could still make pitches."
Chatwood admitted later that Black's decision was the right one, and may have even prevented a more serious injury. The calf strain was bad enough.
"I couldn't get the ball down," he said. "I couldn't push off, so it was all arm. That's not ideal, especially for a guy who had two Tommy John surgeries."
None of it was ideal for the Rockies, who faced another early deficit a night after Jon Gray allowed eight runs in two-plus innings. Chris Rusin replaced Chatwood and gave up four more runs (one earned) in 2 2/3 innings.
Freeland's three relief innings were the Rockies' highlight of the night, on a night he wasn't even supposed to be pitching. The Rockies put Freeland on alert after Chatwood's early exit, and the rookie left-hander entered the game in the fourth inning.
Freeland said it was his first time pitching out of the bullpen since he was in the collegiate Cape Cod League in the summer of 2013. He could soon end up with more relief experience, if the Rockies carry through with their original plan.
"Whatever the team needs, I'm going to do it," Freeland said. "[Black] wants it, I'll do it."
What the team needed Saturday was a solid effort from the starting pitcher. With a bad calf, Chatwood wasn't able to provide it.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York and covered the Rockies on Saturday.