Colorado Rockies: Depth will not be lacking in 2018
By Aaron Hurt
As manager Bud Black and general manager Jeff Bridich whittle down the roster to 25 for Opening Day, a strength that previous Colorado Rockies teams didn’t possess has been discovered. In the past, depth and versatility has been a serious concern but this season’s team has plenty of it.
Let’s do a glance down the roster.
Looking at the players who are guaranteed to make the Opening Day roster, we all know the versatility that Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra provide to the lineup. They give Bud Black ample opportunity to mix and match first base and the outfield based on pitching matchups.
The bench is where the Rockies have really improved their depth and versatility. Even as a rookie, Pat Valaika excelled at one of the hardest jobs in baseball, pinch hitting. He was 19-for-58 (.322) with four homers and 16 RBI as a pinch hitter in 2017. He can also play anywhere on the field, except catcher, when needed.
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The backup outfielder spot has been contested all spring and, no matter what happens, the Albuquerque Isotopes are going to have a lot of talent to start the season. Jordan Patterson for sure will be in AAA … but who will join him is still a mystery. Raimel Tapia, Mike Tauchman and David Dahl continue to make the decision difficult for the Rockies. There is also the chance Bud Black may opt to keep two of these outfielders and let Desmond focus entirely on first base.
Depending on how Black wants to configure his roster, Ryan McMahon will be providing versatility off the bench or depth from the minors. If McMahon makes the roster, not only will he platoon at first (where he was slated to start until the signing of Carlos Gonzalez), he can play two other spots on the infield spots.
Brendan Rodgers will have to wait at least a couple of months before he sees his first big league action. He will probably start the season in Double-A, but don’t be surprised if he bolsters the roster by the beginning of July.
Don’t forget about the depth at catcher as well. The Rockies will most likely have the luxury of Tom Murphy being a phone call a way in case the wear and tear of catching get to Chris Iannetta or Tony Wolters.
The bullpen depth has been covered thoroughly throughout the offseason. They also have a few arms with MLB experience that will be waiting in Albuquerque if need be (Carlos Estevez and Jairo Diaz).
The starting rotation may be the only place where the Rockies have depth questions. Antonio Senzatela will possibly be in the bullpen as a long reliever and will be used as an emergency starter. If Colorado’s young rotation has some growing pains, the Rockies may have to go outside the organization to find relief.
Next: Seven bold predictions for the NL West in 2018
Depth is very important to making a good season into a great one. The Los Angeles Dodgers are learning it the hard way with the recent injury to Justin Turner. If the Rockies’ bench can keep pressure off the everyday starters and step in when called upon, a playoff run could be in the future.