DENVER — A night after he poured gas on the fire that was the Colorado Rockies’ 15-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, Wilton Lopez was demoted to the minor leagues Wednesday to make room for the infielder Josh Rutledge, who has been showing signs that he might be as hot as he was during his first promotion to the big leagues two years ago.
Lopez allowed eight hits and six runs to the White Sox before he was able to complete one inning in Tuesday night’s loss. Through 6.1 innings in four games this young season, Lopez compiled a 11.37 ERA, allowing 18 hits with just four strikeouts.
The bullpen was a big issue for the Rockies a season ago — perhaps the team’s biggest. The Rockies’ bullpen compiled a 4.23 team ERA, third worst in baseball. Lopez was part of the problem, compiling a 4.06 ERA in 2013 that was almost twice what it was before the team acquired him from the Houston Astros.
Despite his struggles a year ago, Lopez remained part of the mostly-unchanged bullpen the Rockies constructed for 2014. Through nine games, the Rockies find themselves in a familiar spot — with the third worst bullpen ERA in baseball.
The two biggest additions to the bullpen in 2014 — closer LaTroy Hawkins and left handed setup man Boone Logan — haven’t offered much help so far. Hawkins has only pitched two innings and is yet to log a save. Logan has been nursing an injured elbow and just joined the major league roster Monday.
While it’s bullpen might still be struggling, the Rockies surging offense, which is ranked first in the majors in nearly every category, got more good news on Wednesday in the promotion of Rutledge.
Starting the year in Triple-A Colorado Springs, the 24-year-old has hit .389 in five games, with a double, a home run and 4 RBI. That’s on par with the numbers Rutledge posted two years ago when he was first called up to the Rockies. In his first 18 games in the big leagues filling in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki, Rutledge hit .375 with five homers, six doubles and two triples.
Rutledge figures to steal time from DJ LeMahieu, the team’s current starter at second base, and Charlie Culberson, currently team’s only backup middle infielder. Culberson has the worst batting average of any position player on the Rockies (.077) and LeMahieu isn’t far behind, hitting .208.
Tulowitzki, who is dealing with yet another leg injury, may be spelled a little more often now that Rutledge has returned to the big league roster, as well.