Posted on March 28, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After making the postseason last year as a wild-card team, the Colorado Rockies appear poised to take another step forward in 2018. Of course, the Rockies find themselves in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, so repeating that success could be easier said than done. Can the Rockies take another step forward in 2018 or will last season prove to be an aberration?
Colorado’s rotation was middle of the pack in the National League in 2017, which is actually a positive for a team that plays half its games at Coors Field. The Rockies have lost veteran Tyler Chatwood in free agency, which could hurt them. However, they return plenty of depth in their rotation and should feel comfortable with the experience their young starters gained last year.
It starts with Jon Gray, who emerged as the team’s ace last year despite being limited to 20 starts because of injury. Kyle Freeland and German Marquez also pitched like top-of-the-rotation starters last year, as each one 11 games. Both are also young enough to show improvement now that they have some experience under their belts.
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Antonio Senzatela also flashed plenty of promise with 10 years in 2017. The Rockies also hope to get more out of Chad Bettis, who was limited to nine starts last season because of cancer. Tyler Anderson and Jeff Hoffman are also viable rotation options, making the Rockies at least 7-starters deep.
While Colorado’s rotation is largely intact from last season, the Rockies made an effort over the winter to improve their bullpen. The Rockies got 41 saves out of Greg Holland last year, but they may have upgraded the closer’s spot by signing Wade Davis. Colorado also signed Bryan Shaw, one of the most durable and consistent setup men in baseball over the past few years.
Davis and Shaw join a bullpen that also includes lefties Jake McGee, Mike Dunn, and Chris Rusin. With those three, the Rockies should be as strong as any team in baseball in terms of lefties coming out of the bullpen. That trio along with Davis and Shaw should make the Rockies difficult to face late in games. If righties like Adam Ottavino and Scott Oberg can show improvement after modest seasons last year, the Rockies have the makings of what could be a deep and powerful bullpen.
The Rockies rarely struggle to score runs, and this season should be no different. Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon are two of the best players in baseball at their respective positions and give Colorado a dangerous middle of the order. The Rockies also hope to get more out of Ian Desmond, who struggled to settle in last season but should be a good complement to Arenado and Blackmon. Trevor Story and D.J. LeMahieu also give the Rockies a fair amount of depth in their lineup.
Of course, the Rockies will have to replace the 30 home runs they got from Mark Reynolds last year. It looks like Ryan McMahon will get a chance to play every day at first base in place of Reynolds. McMahon is yet to establish himself in the majors, but he had a monster season in the minors last year. If he struggles, the Rockies could potentially move Desmond to first base and take advantage of some of the depth they have in the outfield with Gerardo Parra, Carlos Gonzalez, and Raimel Tapia likely to be fighting for playing time.
Colorado’s season could hinge on whether their young starting pitchers can take a step forward after such a promising 2017 season. While the potential of that group is sky high, it may be tough for them to find consistency, especially pitching at Coors Field. Expect the Rockies to finish the season 84-78, which is a nice record but not necessarily enough to secure a wild-card spot for the second straight year.