Rockies To Select Victor Vodnik

The Rockies are planning to place left-hander Austin Gomber on the 15-day injured list and select the contract of right-hander Victor Vodnik from Triple-A Albuquerque, reports Thomas Harding of Gomber hasn’t pitched since Aug. 28 after his last start was scratched due to back discomfort. Stints on the injured list can only be backdated up to three days from the time of placement, so the IL stint will presumably be retroactive to Sept. 5.

A timetable for Gomber, 29, isn’t yet clear. He’s tied with fellow southpaw Kyle Freeland for the team lead with 27 starts, though both pitchers have ERAs north of 5.00 — 5.50, in Gomber’s case. This year’s 139 innings represent a new career-high at the MLB level for Gomber, who currently has a 14.4% strikeout rate, 7.1% walk rate, 41.6% ground-ball rate and 1.68 HR/9.

While Gomber’s numbers on the year don’t stand out, he’s steadily improved as the 2023 campaign has progressed. The lefty was rocked for 22 runs in his first four starts this year and struggled for much of the season’s first two months. Since June 14, however, he touts a far more palatable 3.91 ERA in 78 1/3 frames. His 14.8% strikeout rate in that time is still one of the lowest in baseball, but his 4.9% walk rate is excellent and Gomber has significantly tamped down his home run issues during this stretch as well (1.15 HR/9). The Rockies can control him for another two seasons via arbitration.

As for Vodnik, he’ll be in line for his Major League debut. The flamethrowing 23-year-old went from Atlanta to Colorado in the deadline swap that sent righty Pierce Johnson to the Braves. He’s pitched 53 2/3 innings this season between Double-A and Triple-A, working to a combined 3.35 earned run average with a hefty 29.9% strikeout rate against a more troubling 13.4% walk rate. Vodnik reaches triple digits with his heater, and scouting reports at FanGraphs, and Baseball America all credit him with a plus changeup that helps him induce weak contact on the ground. Command issues are a concern, and BA’s scouting report notes that he’ll at times tip his changeup, thereby undercutting the pitch’s effectiveness.

Vodnik is not yet on Colorado’s 40-man roster, so the Rox will need to make a move to create space. If the Rockies don’t believe Gomber will return this year, he could be placed directly on the 60-day IL. Kris Bryant, currently on the 10-day IL, has already missed 47 days and could be another 60-day IL option, depending on his own outlook. The Rox have also already passed Cole Tucker through waivers once this season, and he was only selected back to the MLB roster a couple days ago.

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