TODAY: The Rockies have termed Lambert’s injury as a forearm strain, as per The Athletic’s Nick Groke (Twitter link) and other reporters. While the club is waiting for the results of Lambert’s medical tests, the righty is expected to “miss significant time.”
MARCH 10: Rockies right-handed starter Peter Lambert departed tonight’s Cactus League game early, according to Nick Groke of The Athletic. Colorado manager Bud Black chalked the exit up to “forearm tightness,” before ominously adding, “fingers crossed.”
The precautionary measure of taking Lambert out of the game is certainly understandable, as forearm issues can often be harbingers of more serious elbow troubles down the line.
Lambert, who will turn 23 on April 18th, was a second-round draft pick of the Rockies back in 2015. He made his MLB debut last year, logging 89 1/3 innings over 19 starts. Though he produced a bloated 7.25 ERA during that stretch, the Rockies surely believe the young hurler is capable of improvement. After all, it was only two weeks ago that Black considered him a possibility to obtain the fifth spot in the Opening Day rotation, along with Jeff Hoffman and Chi Chi Gonzalez. The club’s optimism is at least somewhat borne out by the fact that FIP liked Lambert’s 2019 better, pegging him at 5.97 for the year.
If Lambert has to miss time, the Rockies will have to look elsewhere to fill out their rotation behind Jon Gray, German Marquez, Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela. The team had one of the worst rotations in 2019 and did little to improve it during the offseason, the most notable signing being righty Jose Mujica, who missed all of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. That seemingly leaves the aforementioned Hoffman and Gonzalez as the frontrunners for the fifth slot, assuming Lambert is out of the race.
The team could theoretically turn to the free agent market to add another arm. But with Opening Day just over two weeks away, it would be difficult getting a starter stretched out in time. And attracting free agent pitchers to make their living in Coors Field is difficult in the best of times.