Colorado Rockies: Projecting Starting Lineup for 2017

Jul 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of the sunset in the sixth inning of the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; A general view of the sunset in the sixth inning of the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Since we are about to conclude the All-Star break, and our Colorado Rockies are headed for another missed postseason, it is a fun exercise to look ahead and try and project the possible opening day starting lineup for the 2017 season.

The Colorado Rockies have many good players, but they are also carrying many passengers who are not helping the team win. Without naming names, we know who they are.

The team has unearthed some outstanding young players – namely Trevor Story and Carlos Estevez, who will be important players for the club in the long-term. The organization will continue to develop other youngsters in the minors and we will likely sign a handful of free agents in the upcoming offseason.

For this article, I’m not going to project free agent signings, as a lot will happen between now and the beginning of next season. It is just too difficult at this point to accurately gauge potential trade activity.

I’m going to run next year’s potential lineup with two caveats – right fielder Carlos Gonzalez will be traded at some point to add more pitching prospects, and first baseman Mark Reynolds will be a free agent but will sign elsewhere to join a contender.

I’m not seeing too much change in the lineup between now and 2017. My belief is David Dahl will be promoted to the main roster by this September at the latest, and will replace Gonzalez in right field.

The rest of the lineup will look similar to opening day of this season. If there is a managerial change (Walt Weiss is in the last year of his contract and has yet to be extended), the lineup could well end up changing more significantly.

In any case, my opening day starting lineup looks like:

  1. Center Fielder Charlie Blackmon
  2. Second Baseman DJ LeMahieu
  3. Third Baseman Nolan Arenado
  4. Shortstop Trevor Story
  5. Left Fielder Gerardo Parra
  6. Right Fielder David Dahl
  7. First Baseman Ryan McMahon*
  8. Catcher Tony Wolters
  9. Pitcher

Note: If McMahon is not deemed ready to play first base, another free agent signing to play first would be the natural solution.

The Rockies, of course, could blow all of this up by trading Blackmon and Parra before opening day 2017. And with the catcher position, if Rockies management decided Wolter’s offense is still not good enough, they could go with either Dustin Garneau or Tom Murphy.

There is also the possibility Dahl would play center field and they would move Blackmon to right or left, and switch Parra. Or perhaps they go the free agent route. Whatever happens, the Rockies are never big spenders in free agency due to budgetary constraints so there won’t be a big name patrolling the outfield at Coors Field.

Additionally, there also won’t be a lot of change to the starting rotation. Similar to Dahl, Jeff Hoffman will be brought up to the big-league roster prior to the end of this season. He will get a few opportunities to start and he will be evaluated on how he performs, how he handles the pressure and whether he can make in-game adjustments.

Here is the potential rotation for 2017 (in no particular order):

Carlos Estevez will remain the closer, and Christian Bergman will be the long man. The rest of the bullpen provides the biggest questions. There could be several changes in the pen. Boone Logan could well be traded, and the ineffectiveness of Jake McGee, Gonzalez Germen, Jason Motte and Chad Qualls could open the door for new blood.

It seems likely the 2017 flavor of the Rockies will be quite like the 2016 Rockies. There will be some roster changes (like every team) and the organization will continue to focus on the youth, with the outlook to win being more likely in 2018 and beyond.

More from Rox Pile

The Rockies have a deep farm system, with a lot of talent who have great potential to be outstanding Rockies players.

Baseball Prospectus best describes the Rockies farm system:

"The State of the System: This is a really, really good system. The major-league team… well, that isn’t going to be as good. But hey, this is a really, really good system."

They do go on to explain the dilemma for general manager Jeff Bridich – how do the Rockies develop major-league pitching at Coors Field?

"One of the biggest issues Bridich and his team will face from a player development standpoint is the same one that has plagued the team since its inception: how to develop major-league pitching that will perform in Coors Field. The above rankings do not take into account home park, but even adjusting for the altitude in Denver, Dahl and McMahon could easily have better careers than Jeff Hoffman, despite the latter’s superior tools and projection. Coors breaks pitchers. The young position-player talent, both in the majors and on the farm, is substantial, but unless the front office can figure out a way to get results on the mound, the Rockies story will be the same as it ever was."

The Rockies potential starting lineup for 2017 looks solid. But can they solve the pitching hex at Coors?

This question continues to elude them. Back on June 11, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, the Rockies ERA at Coors Field was 6.62, which was more than a run higher than any team in MLB.

If the Rockies pitchers can get their combined home ERA back to the 2009 level of 4.41, they will be in business.

Next: Colorado Rockies Countdown: Top Five Second Basemen

But if not, futility will continue to reign supreme at 20th and Blake.