Looking for a Fifth? Rockies Trump Card Could be Top Pitching Prospect Lambert

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With Jon Gray having an issue with a hot spot on his right middle finger, and the Rockies off on Monday before embarking on a six-game trip to play the Cubs and Mets three games each, there is an opportunity to give Gray an extra two days between starts to help the issue clear up.

It seems likely the Rockies will push Gray back from what would be his normal rest on Thursday and slot him to pitch at Citi Field against the Mets on Saturday.

The Rockies have to bring up a fifth starter this week to fill the void created by the decision on Friday to send Kyle Freeland to Triple-A Albuquerque, and that likely candidate is the organization's top pitching prospect, Peter Lambert, a second-round draft choice out of high school in 2015.

Lambert is on schedule to start Tuesday for the Isotopes, but is expected, instead, to join the Rockies at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, when they open a three-game series against the Cubs, and prepare for his major-league debut on Thursday afternoon.

The Rockies have announced Jeff Hoffman (1-1, 7.20) to start on Tuesday against the Cubs and German Marquez (6-2, 3.48) on Wednesday. The game notes on Sunday did have Gray (5-4, 4.11) on Thursday, but with further consideration the idea of that extra rest makes sense.

The Rockies have Antonio Senzatela set for the series opener against the Mets on Friday.

While Lambert is 2-2 with a 5.07 ERA at Albuquerque this year, he is 1-0 with a 3.69 ERA in his last five starts, having worked seven innings twice and six innings twice in that stretch. More importantly, he has walked five batters and struck out 28 in the 30 2/3 innings of those five games, and in the last three games he has issued one walk and struck out 20 in 20 innings.

Lambert does not overpower. His fastball will sit from 89 to 92 miles per hour, with an ability to reach 94. A key for him is his command and ability to pitch to both sides of the plate, according to scouts who have seen him. He has a quick arm and hand speed, which is ideal for a true 12-to-6 curveball that is a well above-average pitch. He also has a changeup that gives him a legitimate three-pitch mix.