Nolan Arenado was a fan favorite for good reason. He won the Gold Glove at third base in every season he played for the Colorado Rockies, and he was a good hitter with power.
When he signed a big contract before the 2019 season, Colorado fans thought he would be a Rockies player for life, but things changed quickly. Two years after he signed the deal, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Critics lamented the lack of value Colorado received in return, but Austin Gomber will try to show Colorado fans his worth when he makes his Rockies debut Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He will face Julio Urias in a battle of left-handers at Coors Field.
The Dodgers have won the middle two games of the four-game series, including a 6-5 nail-biter on Saturday night.
Gomber made the rotation out of spring training and figures to be a mainstay. He has appeared in only 43 games in parts of two seasons with the Cardinals, starting 15. In two career starts against Los Angeles he is 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA.
He has pitched a total of eight innings in the two starts, allowing nine runs on 14 hits and striking out seven without walking a batter.
Rockies manager Bud Black has faith that Gomber can pitch effectively.
"This guy has pitched in the big leagues, albeit not a ton of innings, but he's got confidence and he's got stuff," Black said. "There's a composure to him."
Urias has more experience than his fellow lefty, and that includes plenty of postseason action. Urias has been used out of the bullpen in 36 of his 74 games in his career with the Dodgers.
He started 10 games in 11 appearances in 2020 and had two starts in six playoff games to help Los Angeles win the World Series.
As much success as he has had in his career (12-7 overall, four saves) he has yet to beat Colorado. In 10 games -- seven starts -- he is 0-1 with a 5.77 ERA. Things are a little rougher for him at Coors Field -- the site of his lone decision against the Rockies -- where he has a 6.55 ERA in six games, four of them starts.
Urias worked on his curveball in spring training.
"It's something that gets guys off the fastball. He can strike it. I like the shape of it," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said at the end of March. "He can put that ball on the ground if he wants to. I like it, and his changeup has really come on since the middle of last year, too."
The first three games of the series have been a mixed bag. The Rockies won the opener, and then Los Angeles starter and reigning NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer took a no-hitter into the seventh before Colorado erupted for six runs in an eventual loss.
The Dodgers have owned the series since 2018, going 24-8, including Saturday night. But the players know they can never relax playing in Denver.
--Field Level Media