The Colorado Rockies aren’t in the playoff chase but they are doing their best to impact it in the final month of the season.
The Rockies (63-73) are in the middle of a seven-game homestand against two teams currently holding a postseason slot. They will play the finale of a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves (71-64) on Sunday in Denver before beginning a three-game set with the San Francisco Giants.
The Braves will send righty Charlie Morton (12-5, 3.52 ERA) to the mound on Sunday. Colorado will counter with right-hander Ryan Feltner, who will be making his major league debut against the National League East leaders.
The Rockies have won the past two games, including a 7-6 victory on Saturday night.
Morton, 37, is having another solid season for Atlanta, the team that drafted him in 2002. He broke in with the Braves in 2008 and played one season for them before going to Pittsburgh for seven seasons.
He won a World Series with Houston in 2017 after getting the win in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and then faced them again in last year’s Fall Classic with Tampa Bay. He is showing no signs of slippage in his 14th season.
“Charlie, it just amazes me,” Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “I feel like I can never say enough good things about him. He just continues to go out there and perform. At his age, to continue doing what he’s doing is remarkable. His cerebral approach to the game, there’s a lot that can be learned from it. I’m thankful to be a teammate of his.”
Morton is coming off a strong start on Tuesday against the Dodgers, allowing one run on three hits in six innings. Sunday’s game will be his 28th start of the season and 11th career start against Colorado. He is 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA in his career versus the Rockies, although his last win against Colorado was April 25, 2012.
Morton was supposed to pitch against lefty Austin Gomber, but he will miss the rest of the season after he was placed on the injured list due to pars defect — a stress fracture of bones in the lower spine.
Enter Feltner, whom the Rockies selected in the fourth round of the 2018 draft out of Ohio State.
“This was out of the blue, but I feel prepared,” said Feltner, who had been scheduled to start Saturday for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats.
“I’ve had talks with my pitching coaches about this and we are confident that this is the right move. … The traditional route is to touch Triple-A first, but I didn’t have any expectations. I’m just glad it happened the way it did.”
Feltner has combined to go 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 20 starts between High-A Spokane and Double-A Hartford. His most recent start came on Aug. 29 at Harrisburg, allowing two runs on eight hits with one walk and eight strikeouts across 5 2/3 innings.
“He’s had a good season,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “I saw him in the instructional league last fall and I liked what I saw. The last month, he seems to be gaining a lot of momentum in every aspect of pitching.”
–Field Level Media