Leading up to the start of the 2017 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of baseball’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the Colorado Rockies. Stay tuned until Opening Day as Diamond Hoggers previews every team one by one until the beginning of the 2017 season.
The Rockies are such a fun team in baseball. They score a ton of runs, they are unique compared to any team in the entire sport. Many of their games enter the day with a total of around 10 runs; so if you like offense, they’re just a fun team to watch at night. Stuff is never really settled until the last out is recorded at Coors.
We don’t write about them a lot – they just haven’t done enough to be relevant in recent years. It’s funny, the Rockies were actually relevant in the Wildcard Race for a good portion of last season. You could look early in the season and actually make a case for them making some type of run. Things faded like they usually do in the Rocky Mountains, and they finished 75-87.
One of the leading sports betting sites, SportsBetting.ag, has The Rockies odds of winning the National League West currently sitting around +600, third in the five team division.
Two things are for sure about Colorado: every single year, their park and run-scoring environment at Coors Field is going to breed a new offensive star or two. It happens every year (see: DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story in 2016). And they’re going to struggle to ever patch together a starting pitching staff that can survive the deadly environment in which they spend half the season. There’s going to be chaos. You’re going to be happy to have watched some of this chaos unfold.
Major Off-season Moves:
Projected Starting Lineup:
Charlie Blackmon heads up an absolutely electric lineup that doesn’t seem to have many easy outs. Blackmon hit .324 last season with 29 homers and 111 runs scored. He was aided by the protection of an incredible season from the 27-year old DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu hit .348 with a .911 OPS, 192 base hits and 104 runs of his own. The usual suspects in the middle of the order are still there, headlined by Nolan Arenado who could win the MVP if this team puts up any type of fight. Arenado is just getting started – in his age 25 season he hit 41 homers and added 133 RBI which remind some of the Blake Street Bomber Rockies of old.
Carlos Gonzalez seems to be an ageless wonder as the elder statesman, only entering his age-31 season. The best stat to see out of CarGo was that he played in 150 games last season.
The Rockies have added Ian Desmond to play some outfield and possible first base. He’s really going to be an interesting player in this lineup as he has always had the ability to hit and steal bases with abandon.
How scary it is that a team can run out a 6-7-8 that features David Dahl, young Trevor Story, and Tony Wolters. Tom Murphy will spell Wolters at catcher, but that should be a productive unit. Story was so interesting as a 23-year old rookie, homering 27 times and hitting .272 out of seemingly nowhere. If he can continue to hit around .270 and keep his strikeouts in check (130 of them in just 97 games last season), he’s going to be a monster.
David Dahl is a very interesting player who acclimated himself well at the big league level. Dahl hit .315 and OPS’d .859 in 63 games as a rookie. Of course, the team has Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra always lurking as really nice bench options.
Projected Pitching Staff:
This is where things get hairy for the Rockies, and it’s always going to be this way. The thing is, Jon Gray has incredible stuff. Any starting pitcher who can even handle themselves as well as he does having roughly half his starts at Coors Field has incredible stuff (and testicular fortitude, as Gorilla Monsoon would say). Gray had a deceiving 10-10 record and inflated 4.61 ERA, but struck out 185 hitters in 168 innings. We think Gray’s ERA has a tendency to lower as he learns the book on big league hitters and learns to locate just a hair better. He’s probably always going to be a ‘stuff’ guy though. That’s your only chance of surviving Coors.
Before we get deeper into the discussion of the rough rotation, it’s important to note that the Rockies took huge steps in strengthening their beleaguered bullpen from a year ago. Greg Holland, Jake McGee, and Mike Dunn were all brought in to bolster a group that already included ‘OK’ options in Adam Ottavino and Jason Motte. These are guys with good velocity who ‘should’ be able to shorten ballgames. They should be able to play match-ups well having a few quality lefties. But nothing can tame the beast that is that home park.
Chad Bettis is not that bad of a pitcher. He went 14-8 last season, and get this: he was 8-2 at Coors with a 4.44 ERA while going 6-6 on the road with an ERA of 5.06 on the year. He’s an innings eater, not an ideal number two; but he’ll have to do for the Rockies in 2017. It’s a good sign that he obviously knows how to ‘survive’ at Coors. No one really flourishes there.
Tyler Chatwood was extremely solid, going 12-9 overall with a 3.87 ERA. The other 26-year old Tyler Anderson posted a 3.54 ERA in 19 starts. There’s some hopefulness there but we think they could regress some. Chatwood walks too many hitters in comparison to how many he punches out, and Anderson’s success could have just been due to small sampling.
Jeff Hoffman draws spot number five to start, a relative unknown. Not going to waste too much space on the site blogging about the Rockies fifth starter. It’s going to be a long, bloody summer for whoever is in that spot.
The Rockies 2017 projected win total sits at 80.5, which is a really good number. The lineup could be the best in baseball by a wide margin, but they have a real riddle to solve with Coors and the pitching staff. We will take the over, albeit slightly; for two main reasons.
Bud Black is a lot better manager than Walt Weiss. He’s going to get the most out of a pitching staff, and it was a good hire for the Rockies. The other reason is the bullpen is vastly improved. With just a little luck, this is a .500 club and possibly a team that could win 84 or 85 games. If they’re relevant in August and September and actually talking about bringing in some poor sucker starting pitcher because they’re in contention, it’s truly good for baseball.