For all the patience the Rockies have shown with the ongoing struggles of Tyler Anderson, the anticipated success remains hidden. Oh, Anderson will tease with an inning here, inning there that shows promise.
The promises, however, haven't been kept.
And the problems have gone from bad to worse, resulting in the Rockies decision on Saturday to open Anderson to Triple-A Albuquerque. The Rockies also placed left-handed pitcher Hunter Musgrave on the Injured List with a "flexnor pronator issue."
To replace them on the active roster, right-handed relievers DJ Johnson and Yency Almonte were recalled from Albuquerque. A determination of who will replace Anderson in the rotation is on hold. With the Rockies off on Monday, they could wait on adding a starter until next Saturday, and it could be just a one-start shot for the time being in light of the Rockies also being off on May 13, 16 and 20, meaning a second start for a fifth starter could be delayed until May 25.
And in a perfect world it's not out of the question that Anderson couldn't be ready to be recalled by May 25. He has the ability to compete at the big-league level, but has to show he understands how to translate that into results.
"Nothing needs to be worked on mechnically," manager Bud Black said.
"Nothing need to be worked on mentally. It's just the consistency from pitch to pitch. It is consistently putting pitches togehter and putting zeroes on the (score)board.
"This is performance based. He is healthy. He feels good. The arm feels good. Now he has to put zeroes on the board."
It's one thing for Anderson to stumble through four-plus innings in a 10-9 loss to the Diamondbacks at Coors Field on Friday night. But quite another after the Rockies rallied in the bottom of the fourth, to erase a 4-0 deficit and earn Anderson a reprieve from the anticipated hook after four innings of work. Seven pitches into the fifth, Anderson was gone.
It was as easy as 1 (Adam Jones' home run on a 2-1 pitch) 2 (an ensuing single by Ketel Marte) 3 (the arrival of Bryan Shaw and departure of Anderson).
With the effort on Friday, Tyler Anderson is the first pitcher since earned runs were first recorded in 1913 to allow five or more earned runs while pitching five or fewer innings in each of his first five starts of a season.
But it's not just this year that is sent up red flags.
Since July 30 last season, Anderson is 1-9 (the Rockies 3-13) in his 16 starts, and he has an 8.09 ERA -- 11.76 in his five starts this season. The Rockies looked for a bright spot in his struggles in the final two months of 2018, focusing on the fact he allowed only four runs in 19 2/3 innings his final three regular-season starts -- including 7 2/3 shutout innings in Game 162, a 12-0 victory against the Nationals.
The opening weeks of 2019, however, created a legitimate concern. It's not that he is 0-3 and the Rockies 1-4 in the five starts he has sandwiched around a stretch on the injured list because of an inflamation in his left knee. It's the 11.76 ERA.
It's the propensity to fall victim to a big inning. It's the lapse, like in Friday's loss, when the Rockies rally for four runs in the bottom of the fourth, tying the scored at 4-4, and earning Anderson a chance to go back to the mound in the fifth. Two batters later -- a leadoff home run by Adams Jones on the fourth pitch of the fifth inning, and Ketel Marte double -- and Anderson was lifted in place of Bryan Shaw.
"It was a little bit of a struggle for him," said Black. "He couldn't seem to establish any momentum. We have things to work on."
Efforts to work on those things at the big-league level wasn't working so the decision was made to see if a trip to Albuquerque can get things back in order.
"One of his strengths is his confidence and belief in his ability," Black said of Anderson.
Is the confidence, however, a negative? Does the confidence keep Anderson from making an honest evaluation of what is transpiring? That breath of hope in his final three starts a year ago has been dampened by his lack of anything close to consistency in his five starts this year.
"I feel like every time I go out there on the mound I'm going to have a good start," Anderson said. "We will go back and look at what went wrong and what went well, and adjust from there. I have no doubt in my mind the next one will be good."
Whistling in the woods?
There's no indication from his five starts this year that there is an upswing in the making. He went five innings and gave up five runs at Miami in his first start -- the Rockies third game -- and suffered a 7-3 loss.
And that's his best start of the season. He allowed five runs twice and six runs the three other times. He gave up eight home runs in his last four starts, ahead of even his pace from a year ago when he shared the NL home run allowed lead of 30 with Chase Anderson of the Brewers.
Hoffman's strong starts could simplify the Rockies decision on Anderson's replacement in the rotation.
There is no candidate on the current roster, in light of the recent decision that Chad Bettis is a better fit for his own good, as well as the team, in the bullpen.
And it would be a gamble for the Rockies to call on Peter Lambert, the organization's No. 1 pitching prospect. He has been challenged by the opposition in the Pacific Coast League, and is 1-2 with a 6.57 ERA. Friday night he was unscored upon in four of the five innings he pitched, but in that other inning -- the fourth inning of his five-inning effort -- the first five batters in the inning scored.
Hoffman has been expected to step into the rotation each of the past three years, but has not been able to take that step. He, however, could have finally had a weake up call after an emergency start for the Rockies on April 23 saw him allow four runs in five innings -- the four runs coming in the top of the third inning against the Nationals when the first four batters reached base after the Rockies had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. And he allowed 18 runs in 11 2/3 innings of his first three starts at Albuquerque this year.
Upon his return to Albuquerque, Hoffman suddenly dominated the opposition in back-to-back starts.
Meanwhile, Anderson continues to look for bright spots in what has been a bleak stretch.
"I felt most my pitches they hit were well executed," he said Friday night. "I need to go back and look. Maybe I was tipping something. They hit a lot of good pitches."
The results, however, weren't good for Anderson and the Rockies -- which led to the decision to send Anderson to Albuquerque for what is hoped will be a refresher course.