The Colorado Rockies open the season on Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. As the Rockies prepare for their 23rd season, here’s a look at everything you need to know heading into the 2016 campaign.
Who’s on the team?
The Rockies finalized their 25-man Opening Day roster on Sunday. It’s comprised of 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders, and five outfielders. Here’s a look at who will be in the Colorado Rockies dugout on Monday night.
Christian Bergman (RHP, reliever/starter)
Chad Bettis (RHP, starter)
Miguel Castro (RHP, reliever)
Tyler Chatwood (RHP, starter)
Jorge De La Rosa (LHP, starter)
Jason Gurka (LHP, reliever)
Boone Logan (LHP, reliever)
Jordan Lyles (RHP, starter)
Jake McGee (LHP, reliever)
Justin Miller (RHP, reliever)
Chad Qualls (RHP, reliever)
Chris Rusin (LHP, reliever)
Six Rockies players were placed on the disabled list on Sunday.
15-day DL, retroactive to March 25
Infielder Daniel Descalso (left hand fracture)
RHP Jon Gray (abdominal strain)
RHP Jason Motte (shoulder strain)
LHP Tyler Anderson (oblique strain)
LHP Tyler Matzek (anxiety)
RHP Jairo Diaz, who underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction on his right elbow
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What are the things to be excited about this season?
The potential of Nolan Arenado — Arenado finished spring training with a .542 average, six homers, and 17 RBI in 59 at-bats. To say that Arenado was in midseason form before the season even begins is an understatement. Last season was simply amazing for Arenado, who captured his third consecutive National League Gold Glove and became the first third baseman to earn the coveted award three times in his first three years in the league. He also becomes one of just five players in MLB history to turn the feat in each of his first three seasons, joining Johnny Bench, Ichiro Suzuki, and others.
At the plate, he hit .287 with a career-best 42 home runs, tying him with Washington’s Bryce Harper for the National League home run lead. Some of Arenado’s other eye-popping stats include leading MLB with 130 RBI and setting a new MLB record for third basemen with 89 extra-base hits.
He finished the year by earning the National League’s Player of the Month designation for September/October by hitting 12 homers, driving in 35 RBI, and batting .336 during a 32-game stretch.
The ascension of Trevor Story — When Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays last season, many believed that the move would ultimately open the door for Story to rise from the minor leagues to take the Rockies’ shortstop position. That’s exactly what happened in spring training as Story earned the team’s Abby Greer Award, signifying their spring training MVP, by batting .340 with six homers and 13 RBI.
Story not only impressed at the plate, but also flashed some impressive defensive skills throughout spring training. With Arenado and LeMahieu on both sides of him, Story seems ready to take his place as part of the next chapter of the Coors Shield legacy.
A healthy Jorge De La Rosa — Colorado’s Opening Day starter is 35 years old (he turns 36 on Tuesday) and suffered through groin and Achilles injuries last season, struggling to a 9-7 record and 4.17 ERA. This season, Colorado’s all-time winningest pitcher came into spring training with those injuries behind him and “feeling good,” he said. The Rockies will need him to perform well as he anchors a shaky rotation.
An improved Chad Bettis — When Bettis was good last year, he was very good, including going 2-2 with a 2.54 ERA in September. He continued the trend of solid pitching in spring training, posting a 2-0 mark and 3.12 ERA in 17.1 innings, as he competed with De La Rosa for Opening Night start honors.
What is the biggest thing to be nervous about this season?
Pitching — Outside of De La Rosa and Bettis, it’s hard to know what to expect from the rotation. Chatwood is coming off his second Tommy John surgery but looked good in spring training with a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings. Lyles had a rough spring with an 0-3 mark and 7.11 ERA.
Last season, the bullpen was the worst in MLB with a 4.70 ERA and had just 36 saves in 61 opportunities. New faces have been added to the bullpen and one of those, Jake McGee, has been tabbed as the closer. He had 25 saves over the last two seasons for Tampa Bay. Can he be the consistent closer Colorado longed for last season after Ottavino’s injury?
As in past seasons, pitching is truly the biggest variable in Colorado’s success or failure this season. If Colorado’s pitchers can keep a low ERA and the ball in the park, the Rockies offense will always have a chance to grab the win.
So how does the season look?
Las Vegas has the Rockies at 200-1 to win the 2016 World Series. Only Philadelphia at 250-1 is a bigger longshot. Vegas is also predicting the Rockies to win 68.5 games this season. Only Philadelphia (66.5) and Atlanta (65) are expected to win fewer games than the Rockies.
This won’t be a season that the Colorado Rockies challenge for the playoffs, but it will be better than last season’s 68-94 record. We’re predicting a 72-90 season as the Rockies continue to build. Yes, it’s another 90-loss season but we believe the team will take steps forward this season that the fan base has been yearning to see for some time. A young team has the chance to surprise or serve notice that their time is coming. Either would produce a needed sense of optimism.
Bring on the sunsets and the Rooftop. It’s baseball season.