One of the preseason favorites by many as a potential surprise team out of the National League, the Colorado Rockies have already been hit hard by a number of injuries and illnesses that may ultimately bump this team back from potential contender to pretender.
As always, this is a strong offensive club that will score. They’re in a ballpark that’s hard not to put up strong offensive numbers. In the end, this team will go as far as the pitching will take it and general manager Jeff Bridich has worked hard to assemble a good crop of hard throwing relievers, but the young starters will determine this team’s fate.
2016 Record: 75-87
2016 Moneyline Record: -8.42 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 76-82-4
Current World Series Odds: +6500
Current Odds To Win NL: +3150
Current Odds To Win NL West: +861
Regular Season Win Total: 80.5
The Rockies’ biggest offseason acquisition was Ian Desmond who a year after transitioning from shortstop to the outfield was supposed to move back into the infield and play first base for this team.
The move was a bit of a surprise given the number of excess first-basemen on the free agent market, but Desmond was a well-rounded hitter who lengthened their lineup and a good athlete who undoubtedly was ready for the transition.
Well, now the team will be without its biggest acquisition for a good chunk of the season due to a fractured hand. This will move Mark Reynolds back into a starting spot. With injuries to Tom Murphy and David Dahl as well, Tony Wolters and Geraldo Parra will see a significant increase in playing time as well.
Fortunately for the Rockies, their backup plans at each of these positions still provide a very good answer. When you consider the team will still have Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado in the middle of the order and Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahieu setting the table, this team will still score runs. Particularly since we haven’t even considered the return of Trevor Story who was the biggest story in baseball during the first month given the power he showed. His strikeout totals were high and that’s concerning, but there’s no doubt this team has power, speed, on base and average up and down the line up. Injuries or not, this team will put runs on the board, but can they prevent the other team from doing the same?
Unable to attract any notable free agent pitchers to the hitters’ haven that is Coors Field, the Rockies have to rely on developing their own starters—and trading for others—to form a rotation. Given that approach, there’s plenty of youth and with youth comes uncertainty.
Tyler Chatwood heads the list of starters after putting up a 12-9 record and 3.87 ERA last season in 27 starts for Colorado. Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson join him in the rotation after each showed pretty well last year, too. Gray’s ERA was a bit inflated at 4.61, but he did record 10 wins in the thin air while Anderson pitched to a 3.54 in 19 starts.
Further down, this team has a bit more depth in the rotation than it has had in years past though Chad Bettis who led the team in innings last year will miss time as he goes through cancer treatment.
Still, German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman and Harrison Musgrove have good young arms and while this rotation doesn’t match up with the Nationals, Dodgers or Mets, it does have some upside and looks better than recent past and is arguably better than the rotation that the team road all the way to the World Series a decade ago.
One thing that World Series team did have, however, was a dynamic bullpen. That’s a key to win in Coors Field: you need an offense that can outslug the opposition early and a bullpen that can close out the close game, albeit typically more 6-5 games than 2-1.
The 2017 version of the bullpen isn’t nearly as strong, on paper than the 2007 version that had Brain Fuentes, Manny Corpas, LaTroy Hawkins and so many others. That said there are some talented arms. It’s just a matter of whether they can stay healthy and/or bounce back from down seasons.
The two biggest keys to this pen are Greg Holland and Jake McGee. Holland is looking to prove he’s healthy again and he’s looking to do so at the hardest place for a pitcher to pitch. However, when he’s healthy, he’s proven to be one of the best closers in baseball.
He’s a power pitcher and it’s typically more of the movement pitchers that are impacted by the thin air in Coors.
Along with Holland, the Rockies have assembled a number of good names with good arms including Adam Ottavino and Jake McGee while adding in some veterans in Jason Motte and Chad Qualls. As good as the names sound based on their careers, only Holland is new to the team and only Ottavino enjoyed success last season with McGee, Motte and Qualls all struggling.
This lineup was exciting, particularly before the injuries, but it still comes down to pitching and that’s still lacking in Colorado.
April 3-6: at Brewers
April 7-9: vs. Dodgers
April 10-12: vs. Padres
April 13-16: at Giants
April 18-19: at Dodgers
April 21-23: vs. Giants
April 24-27: vs. Nationals
April 28-30: at Diamondbacks
The Rockies will play a rebuilding Brewers team in Milwaukee to kick off the regular season before returning to the Mile High City for its home opener against the Dodgers that following weekend.
Colorado stacks up well against Milwaukee with a much deeper lineup and a rotation and bullpen with plenty of issues, but more upside right now. While still on the fringes when discussing teams with postseason aspirations, the Rockies figure to fall in somewhere near .500 which, with the second wild card, could put them right in the thick of things at least through August.
After Milwaukee, when the Rockies return home, they’ll face five straight NL West battles, two each against the division’s best in Los Angeles and San Francisco before hosting the Nationals who will be yet another good test to see if this Colorado team really does have staying power.
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The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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