Colorado Rockies Preview

With the second team in the NL West, I will be doing the most intriguing roster in likely all of the National League, and that is the Colorado Rockies.  Ever since making the World Series back in 2007, the Rockies really haven't done that much.  Sure, they have done a lot in the batting column, but the endless struggle of fighting the elements of Coors Field has kept Colorado out of the postseason, and thus out of contention.  Thankfully, the pitching problems in Coors Field work both ways, which allows good offensive players to become great, and this lineup is the best I think since Todd Helton was in Denver.  They just need to solve the pitching dilemma.

PROJECTED ROTATION: Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis, Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Jeff Hoffman
Not familiar with a lot of these pitchers?  That makes sense, since most pitchers that go into Coors Field never come out alive.  Don't believe me, look at the once great Colorado pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, and watch him struggle to make a mediocre Baltimore rotation.  Either way, Jon Gray and Jeff Hoffman are good young pitchers, and that's what Colorado needs.  Tyler Chatwood managed to have an ERA under 4.00 in 27 starts, which means he is a well above average pitcher.  Chad Bettis has durability, and is the veteran of the group now.  Tyler Anderson had the second best ERA of any Rockie last season, so he makes the cut too.  German Marquez is the other main contender for a spot in the rotation.

BULLPEN: Greg Holland (CL), Adam Ottavino, Jason Motte, Mike Dunn, Jake McGee, Chad Qualls, Jordan Lyles, Jairo Diaz
I appreciate the Rockies' strategy for acquiring relief pitchers, get as many cheap ex-closers and setup men as possible and hope they work out.  All of the first six players listed have experience in both closing and holding games in late innings, and while they are not the best closers in baseball, they are all capable of getting a few outs in a tight spot.  Greg Holland used to be the Kansas City Royals' closer before his injury that cost him all of last year and a lot of their championship season, and if he bounces back he could be exactly what Colorado needs.  If not, Ottavino was the best reliever for the Rockies last season in his 34 appearances.  Keep an eye on Marquez, Carlos Estevez, Scott Oberg and Chris Rusin to compete for a job in the bullpen.

CATCHERS: Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy
The Rockies let the incumbent catcher Nick Hundley walk, so it means that they are confident in their current situation.  Tom Murphy is the catcher of the future in Colorado, but Tony Wolters had a good season backing up Nick Hundley last year.  Expect Wolters to start out as the starter, and Murphy will either back him up or start out in Triple-A.  Dustin Garneau is also on the roster, and he caught in a few games as well last season.

INFIELDERS: Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, DJ LeMahieu, Ian Desmond, Mark Reynolds, Alexi Amarista
Nolan Arenado would be the MVP if he was on a better team, and he has proven to be a consistent threat for 40 home runs and 100 RBI's, while hitting at or near .300.  Trevor Story was the story of the year for Colorado last season, as he broke out and had a huge rookie campaign that was cut short due to injury.  He will have to keep this up to hold off top prospect Brendan Rogers.  DJ LeMahieu once again is defying odds with his ridiculous batting averages, and Ian Desmond had a nice bounce back year in Texas and should fit in very well in Colorado.  Not only is he the first basemen, but he is now one of the better hitting utility men in baseball.  Non-roster invitee Mark Reynolds should make the roster due to his bat and versatility, and Amarista is a good defender and a speedy player.  Watch for Christian Adames to be the main competition for a roster spot, wth Pat Valaika also getting a look.

OUTFIELDERS: Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, David Dahl
This is a pretty good outfield group, and I'm sure Rockies' fans are glad both Blackmon and Gonzalez are back for another season.  They both are 30 homer, 100 RBI and .300 threats to go along with Arenado, Story and Desmond, but Blackmon's speed is what might make him the most important batter in this lineup. Gerardo Parra has put together a solid career, and he should continue it this season after struggling with injuries in 2016.  David Dahl reaped the benefits of that, hitting .315 in 222 at bats filling in for Parra.  Jordan Patterson and Raimel Tapia are the other outfielders on the 40 man roster.

LINEUP: Blackmon (CF), LeMahieu (2B), Gonzalez (RF), Arenado (3B), Story (SS), Desmond (1B), Parra (LF), Wolters (C)

I don't get why DJ LeMahieu hits eighth a lot in Colorado, but he hit .348 last season, and I think he shouldn't be hitting last.  The first six batters in this lineup form as good of a group as anywhere in the country, and yes, that does include the Chicago Cubs.  Parra and Wolters are competent pieces as well, and having guys like Mark Reynolds and David Dahl on the bench is useful too.  If Colorado can just learn how to pitch in the elements, then this is a playoff team.  I don't see that changing this year, plus having San Francisco and the Dodgers in the division makes it difficult.  I'm guessing Colorado could hit .500 record-wise, and I'll guess 82 wins.