ARLINGTON -- How long the Rockies' four-man rotation lasts could be connected to the time it takes for left-hander Drew Pomeranz to show Major League consistency at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Right now, the Rockies are hoping Pomeranz's good outing in his last start -- no runs or hits in six innings, with eight strikeouts and three walks in a victory over Salt Lake City -- becomes a trend. Pomeranz will start for the Sky Sox on Sunday at home against Tacoma.
"He had a good outing the last time out," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Actually, the last couple that he's had have been much improved. But that was the goal when we sent him out -- to try to get him to that point. He's reaching for that, and you're hopeful that it continues."
The start against Salt Lake marked the first time in a month that either his hit total or his walk total was not alarming. Pomeranz still has managed a 3-4 record and 2.38 ERA in nine total Triple-A starts. But the Rockies have made it clear they expect Pomeranz to come back showing signs that he will grow into a front-of-the-rotation arm. Pomeranz was selected by the Indians fifth overall in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and came to the Rockies for their former ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Rockies are on their second turn in a four-man rotation, with a 75-pitch limit per outing, that has the appearances of being a teaching tool for pitchers currently on the staff. What isn't clear is whether the Rockies will put Pomeranz on a similar program when he returns or if the team will go back to a conventional five-man rotation.
"If he continues to force your hand in that regard, it'll create an interesting conversation," Tracy said. "Where should we go with this? Is he ready? Is he ready to come up here, and is he capable of being as consistent at this level as he's been in his last couple of outings at Triple-A?
"He must be capable of being a consistent strike-thrower. Is he capable of coming up here and commanding his pitches, and not walking three or four or five guys?"