The Colorado Rockies strength in recent years has been their starting rotation.
While they have had some inconsistent seasons, by and large, German Marquez, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland, and Antonio Senzatela have all been the team’s most valuable players outside of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, and Charlie Blackmon.
However, in recent projections from FanGraphs, the Rockies starting rotation is projected to be one of the worst in baseball, fourth-worst to be exact.
Why is that the case? Well, there are two main reasons.
First off, FanGraphs tends to be a bit harsh on the Rockies. Even in their overall win-loss projections when the team made the playoffs, the Rockies were projected to be a mid-to-high 70-win team. You could contend, though, that the Rockies overachieved then and, in the past two years, have played more like how they have been constructed: a low 70-win team.
Secondly, it’s the problem that has been discussed ad nauseam with the Rockies because it has been a problem for most of their franchise’s history: a lack of depth and secondary talent to supplement their stars.
That’s why the Rockies are projected so low. Moreso than ever before entering 2021 after starting pitchers did not have as much time to stretch their arms out in 2020, teams need more than five starting pitchers. The Rockies, as it currently stands, have four pitchers that have shown that they are MLB-ready pitchers: Marquez, Gray, Freeland, Senzatela.
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However, with Gray’s litany of injuries in recent years not to mention other occasional flare-ups, you have to have more pitching than you think you’ll need. As the adages go, “you can never have too much pitching” and “good pitching always beats good hitting.” Outside of those four starters, the Rockies have a massive problem.
For those four, FanGraphs projects that they will have a WAR of 8.8, which is pretty good. But the other five players that they project to contribute to the Rockies rotation have a combined WAR of 0.3. With those top four, they’d be in the middle of the pack compared to everybody else’s top four starters, and that’s just taking the WAR at face value (Texas is ranked 13th and their top four starters are projected to have a WAR of 7.3 but some other teams that aren’t the Rockies are ranked lower than the Rangers overall but have a higher WAR among their top four starters.
The Rockies other five potential starters drop them down 10 or more places.
For comparison, look at the teams at the top or near the top of the list. Look at the Rockies rival, the Dodgers. Their top four starters by WAR are projected to be better than the Rockies top four (11.4 to 8.8) but the comparison between the following five is no comparison (3.8 to 0.3).
It’s not a secret why the Dodgers have won the NL West for eight straight seasons and won the World Series in 2020 and the Rockies have not and the Rockies front office knows it. After all, despite the moves often not working out well for them, they have spent a lot of money in recent years to help the team. Now, it’s just a matter of being able to address it again and this time, address it effectively.