Every year, FanGraphs releases their projections for the year, the STEAMER projections. They are some of the most widely used projections for writers and fans to look at. It is a time where we can think about, "If this player meets those projections our team is going to be so much better" or possibly (like in the Rockies situation), "If this player could really figure some things out, that type of season would be valuable for the growth of this team." Last Friday, we took a look at a solid group from last year, the 2024 projections for the Rockies' catchers. We continue our series by looking at FanGraphs 2024 projections for the Rockies starting rotation.
The biggest question mark for the Rockies coming into the 2024 season will be in the starting rotation. They know what they will get out of the staff ace, Kyle Freeland, but there are certainly some question marks. Can one of their bounce-back candidates (Cal Quantrill or Dakota Hudson) return to form and become a solid number two or three starter? Can any of their youngsters take some step forward and prove that they can be a middle of the rotation arm? Let's take a look at 2024 STEAMER projections for the Rockies rotation to see what they think.
All information listed above comes from FanGraphs.com
The staff is going to be led by Rockies veteran, Kyle Freeland, but they have 27-year-old righty, Ryan Feltner, putting up the best fWAR among Rockies pitchers. They have Feltner sort of breaking out (putting up the same fWAR as Freeland did last year), but Feltner could be even better than that.
Feltner only made ten starts in 2023, throwing 43.1 innings with a 5.82 ERA, and leading the rotation with a 7.89 K/9, he did struggle with walks (5.82 BB/9), though walks haven't really been an issue in his past so this is something that could be improved upon. In his ten starts, Feltner was worth .9 fWAR, putting him on pace for a solid 2.5-3-win season if he pitched a full year, making 25-30 starts. A line-drive off the head led to a concussion and skull fracture, ultimately keeping him out of play from May 14th to September 19th, he was then placed back on the IL September 27th. A healthy season where Feltner makes 25+ starts, could result in a breakout and one that sees him become the most valuable pitcher for this rotation.
The other thing that really stands out to me is how rough this rotation looks. STEAMER predictions think that there will only be three pitchers worth at least one win, which could be a long season for Rockies fans. It also emphasizes how important it is to nail the development of their recent draft picks and acquisitions. The Rockies need guys like Chase Dollander, Carson Palmquist, Sean Sullivan and Gabe Hughes to become above average rotation options and to hit on one or two of the longer shot options like Jake Madden, Isaiah Coupet, or Jaden Hill.
The Rockies rotation at the major league level will struggle, but growth from guys like Feltner and Lambert could prove very valuable, especially if they can hit on their recent investment into young pitching.