Ottavino a 'piggy-back' option for Rockies

Ottavino a 'piggy-back' option for Rockies

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies right-hander Adam Ottavino has emerged as an intriguing possibility as a "piggy-back pitcher" in the team's paired pitching rotation -- four starters, plus three relievers who can pick up when starters reach closely monitored guidelines for when they should be removed.

Righty Josh Roenicke (4-0, 2.21 ERA) has been the club's most effective piggy-back, but Ottavino (3-1, 4.34 ERA) has shown steady improvement. Ottavino's contribution was major in Friday night's 3-0 victory over the Giants. He threw two hitless innings and escaped a one-out, two-on jam in the seventh. Ottavino had walked two hitters -- he credited the hitters' patience -- but escaped the inning unscathed.

To move forward, Ottavino, 26, will have to continue making adjustments at home and on the road. His best pitch, his slider, can be nasty on the road, but it's tougher to achieve that action in the altitude at home. Still, he has been competitive both places -- 2-0, 4.82 ERA in 27 appearances at Coors Field, and 1-1, 3.80 ERA in 10 games on the road.

"At home, it's a little harder to get [the slider] to break the way you want it to. But I've found that if you stay on top of it, you can still make it do good things in terms of depth," Ottavino said. "On the road, it just happens a little more regularly.

"I like to throw my breaking ball sometimes with more depth, sometimes more downward, sometimes I mix both -- so it's really three different pitches in one. It's a little easier to do on the road."