There was much to admire about the surprisingly hot start to the Rockies’ 2013 season. There was their pitching, of course, as well as their early success with the bats on the road. But what might be most impressive is the fact that they won a bunch of games with something that does not even come close to resembling their best roster. Recent games have shown as much, and Friday night’s 5-0 victory over the Giants was no exception.
Start with pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who delivered 6 shutout innings and might have been poised to pitch deeper into the game if not for some minor command hiccups. It might be that he needed to start the season in the minor leagues to sure up his fastball command, but once he made it up to the Rockies how could they possibly justify a rotation that does not include him? The better he pitches, the more absurd it seems that we have been watching Jeff Francis and Juan Nicasio labor through games. I’m not saying Chatwood won’t have his own struggles over the course of the season, but I’ll take my chances with him. Last night showed why.
It is also impossible to imagine a winning Rockies season without Nolan Arenado at third base. While he has shown flashes with the bat, some inconsistency is to be expected. Still his versatility and ability to hit in so many different spots in the lineup is suiting Walt Weiss very well, and his glove at third base turns this into an elite defensive infield. That is especially true with DJ LeMahieu at second base; his recent playing time shows Weiss is willing to roll with the hot hand in order to keep the best roster in place. That is encouraging.
How about the fact that this team only carried four outfielders for a while so that they could keep Reid Brignac around? With Charlie Blackmon staying as the 5th outfielder the bench immediately improves. With Michael Cuddyer healthy and hitting like he did last night (a double, home run, and 3 RBI), Eric Young returns to a back-up role that serves him and the team much better. You see this roster and you think: when they put the best players in a position to succeed, the Rockies can win baseball games. And then you arrive at this follow-up question…
How in the world did they ever win before?