SAN DIEGO -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Saturday that he still believes in right-handed setup man Wilton Lopez, despite a 12.46 ERA that included a potentially game-turning two runs in the seventh inning of Friday night's 7-5 victory over the Padres.
Lopez, 29, posted sub-3.00 ERAs the last three years with the Astros, including time last year as the team's closer. The Rockies acquired him during the winter for right-hander Alex White, who recently underwent Tommy John elbow surgery and will miss the rest of the season. To make the deal work for them, the Rockies need for Lopez to find his form.
Lopez began his Rockies career by giving up four hits and three runs in one inning against the Brewers to blow a lead on Opening Day -- a game the Rockies ended up losing in extra innings. Lopez has given up runs in three of his five appearances and has yielded a .520 opponents' batting average. But Weiss is not seeing warning signs of a pitcher that has either lost the chance to be effective or is hiding an injury.
"It looked like there was a lot of life to the ball," Weiss said. "He's been nicked a lot. There have been some infield hits, some strangely hit balls that have gotten through and then a guy will get a clean hit. I just don't think he's very far off from getting on a roll."
The Rockies acquired Lopez to pitch late in the game, often in the eighth inning as a setup man to Rafael Betancourt. Weiss is not looking to move Lopez out of the late-inning mix, although he can also turn to right-hander Matt Belisle and lefty Rex Brothers to protect leads.
"I've got to be honest with you, every time I bring him in, I think he's going to be lights-out," Weiss said. "We'll play that by ear. We'll put him in the best possible position to be successful. He's still going to get meaningful innings. I don't know when exactly that's going to be. Is it going to be the seventh or the eighth? They're still going to be meaningful outings."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.