The first of eight wonderful months of baseball is upon us. The Colorado Rockies started with simulated games over the weekend and are about to start in actual games. The Rockies have two intra-squad games on Monday and Tuesday followed by a “home and home” against the Arizona Diamondbacks to kick off Spring Training. The team has released the pitching schedule for the next four days and there are a few names to keep an eye on.
"Monday intra-squad (11 a.m.):Team 1: Tyler Chatwood, Harrison Musgrave, Carlos Estevez, Brian Schlitter. Team 2: Shane Carle, Yohan Flande, Justin Miller, Nelson Gonzalez, Matt Carasiti.Tuesday intra-squad (1 p.m.):Team 1: German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman, Jason Gurka, Gonzalez Germen, Brock Huntzinger, Sam Moll. Team 2: Christian Bergman, Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, Simon Castro.Wednesday vs. Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields (1:10 p.m.):Jon Gray, Tyler Matzek, Tyler Anderson, Jairo Diaz, Carasiti, Scott Oberg.Thursday at Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields: (1:10 p.m.)Jordan Lyles, Eddie Butler, Gurka, Miller, Gonzalez, Schlitter, Estevez."
Monday: Chatwood, Estevez
Tyler Chatwood will step onto a major-league mound for the first time since tearing his UCL for the second time in 2014. Chatwood threw four innings for Low-A Modesto at the end of 2015, but this is a sign that he’s ready to face major league hitters. These first few appearances will give us a preview of Chatwood’s effectiveness post-Tommy John’s surgery. Will he recover and be the pitcher he was before the injury, or lose his fastball and become less effective?
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Estevez is an intriguing player that could be a fixture in the Rockies bullpen for years to come. Estevez finished the year as the closer for the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats and had a good showing in the Arizona Fall League, posting more than a strikeout per inning over the last two years. Can he cement himself as the future of the bullpen?
Tuesday: Marquez, Hoffman, Senzatela, Freeland
These four starters could be the future of the Rockies rotation. Hoffman and Freeland could hold spots at the top of the order over the next two years while Senzatela has gotten a lot of praise this spring for his makeup and his stuff. He could pitch his way into that conversation over the next year in Double-A Hartford. Marquez, the second piece in the Corey Dickerson/Jake McGee trade, has really impressed so far this spring. All four of these guys have high-impact potential and will cement their futures in this organization this year and are players to watch in 2016.
Wednesday: Matzek, Anderson
We know Matzek is a good pitcher. We know he has the talent to succeed. We also know he has performance anxiety and worked extensively over the past year to get it under control. It would be awesome to see Matzek prove that he’s still capable of being a major league starter and it would greatly benefit the Rockies.
Anderson, like Chatwood, didn’t pitch in 2015 while recovering from a fractured pitching elbow. Anderson was part of the three-headed monster of a rotation in 2014 Double-A which featured Jon Gray and Eddie Butler and was the best of the bunch. Now, after letting his elbow heal, he’s looking to reclaim that title and add another talented arm to an up-and-coming pitching staff that could change the fortunes for the Rockies.
Thursday: Butler, Estevez
Butler struggled mightily in 2015, but that might have been the best thing for him. He’s learned that failure is a part of baseball and that the mental part of the game is the difficult part. Butler is a longshot to make the rotation, but the right mentality, a solid performance and control over his mechanics would show the Rockies that he’s serious about a reclaiming his spot on the big league squad.
In Part Two of the AltiTwo Talk Show’s Spring Training Preview, Logan and Isaac discuss the three position battles; first base, shortstop and backup catcher. They also give their Opening Day roster preview, talk about some prospects and non-roster invitees to watch.