Regression on the mound
One of Colorado’s biggest strengths last season was the rotation. Kyle Freeland and German Marquez provided a solid 1-2 punch with Freeland even getting some Cy Young Award buzz and finishing fourth last year while Marquez is already getting discussed in conjunction with the award next season.
Both had memorable seasons last year and both are expected to do great things again this year. There is a lot of optimism surrounding Tyler Anderson and many within the Colorado organization believe that Jon Gray will bounce back from his disastrous 2018.
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As was pointed out in this Denver Post article, last season, Colorado’s starters posted a 4.17 ERA (second-lowest all-time for the franchise), had 84 quality starts (third-most in Colorado history) and struck out a franchise-high 883 batters. Impressive to say the least.
But what if Freeland or Marquez regresses this season? If the two young pitchers can keep moving forward and not take any steps back, it would be spectacular. However, the question has to be asked about two young pitchers (Freeland is 25 and Marquez turns 24 later this month).
Can Anderson and Gray really iron out their inconsistencies and cement the back end of the rotation?
Also, can Colorado’s starters stay healthy for a third straight campaign? Last year, seven pitchers started a game for the Rockies (and that included Jeff Hoffman’s one start). Four of those pitchers made 30 or more starts. In 2017, eight starters were used and five of them had 20 or more starts.
Compare that to 2016 (11 starters) and 2015 (12 starters) and you’ll see that Colorado has not only been good on the mound lately, but healthy as well.
Does Colorado have the pitching depth to overcome an injury or two to key pieces of the rotation? Could an Antonio Senzatela, Hoffman or even Peter Lambert or Yency Almonte step in if needed? These are key questions that hopefully won’t have to be answered this season.