Why the Colorado Rockies will be over the .500 mark in 2020
By Kevin Henry
1. Colorado stays healthy
Toward the end of the 2019 campaign, the entire Colorado Opening Week pitching rotation was on the injured list. Kyle Freeland returned at the end of the season to make two appearances, totaling five innings and allowing just one run along with six hits, one walk and one strikeout.
To lose Freeland, Jon Gray and German Marquez was a huge blow to the Rockies, but so was losing arguably their most reliable reliever (Scott Oberg) after August 16 as well as their All-Star outfielder (David Dahl) after August 2. Yes, injuries are a part of the game and the Rockies have admitted they hurt the team while insisting that’s not an excuse for the disappointing season.
Injuries are going to happen during a season, but the Rockies can only hope that they can avoid them in 2020 in big chunks, a fate that was dealt to Colorado in 2019.
2. These relievers keep improving
While Oberg was on the sidelines with a blood clot in his right arm, Jairo Diaz and Carlos Estevez showed that they have the potential to be big players in the 2020 bullpen.
The 28-year-old Diaz became one of manager Bud Black‘s go-to relievers as the season wound to its conclusion, picking up five saves in the month of September. The 26-year-old Estevez, meanwhile, finished the season by allowing just two hits in 10.2 innings of September work, striking out 11 while opponents hit just .061 against him.
If Diaz and Estevez can maintain their upward trajectory and become solid set-up men for Oberg, who will likely keep the closer role in 2020, Colorado’s late-game bullpen could be much improved.
3. The kids keep playing and getting better
Garrett Hampson and Ryan McMahon. Give them the right side of the infield at second and first, respectively. Sam Hilliard, give him a starting outfield spot alongside two All-Stars in Dahl and Charlie Blackmon.
Let the kids play and play regularly. They flashed plenty of potential in 2019. If they get the majority of playing time in 2020, it gives the Rockies a chance to improve at two different positions (first and left field) while a resurgent Hampson can hopefully produce for a full year on the same pace as he did in September hit .318 and stole nine bases.