Colorado Rockies 2017 Season Preview

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DENVER, CO - JULY 24: Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies and Trevor Story #27 joke around between innings during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Coors Field on July 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Colorado Rockies enter the 2017 season with promise, but a weak rotation. They will also be competing with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in the National League West which will be a difficult challenge. They possess one of the most dangerous lineups in the game, when healthy. This team lacks an ace though and their rotation will be what holds them back.

Colorado Rockies 2017 Season Preview

The Rotation

Tyler Chatwood is the only starter on this team who has pitched over 500.0 innings at the major league level. His 12-9 record and 3.87 ERA last season were respectable numbers, but they should not be the team’s best, as was the case in 2016. Tyler Anderson, a second year starter, had a good campaign last year going 5-6 with a 3.54 ERA over 114.1 innings with 99 strikeouts. At 27-years-old he is certainly not their ace of the future, but he’ll slot in nicely as a middle rotation arm. Jon Gray is the team’s only strikeout machine in the rotation with 185 strikeouts over 168.0 innings pitched one year ago.

The fifth starter role seemed to be the only question in the Rockies rotation until Chad Bettis learned that his cancer had returned. He optimistically feels he can return this season, but until then there are two vacant spots in the rotation. Jeff Hoffman is one option, working to a 4.88 ERA over 31.1 innings and 22 strikeouts last season. 22-year-old Antonio Senzatela is having a great spring with a 2.11 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 21.1 innings. In AA last year he worked 34.2 innings with 27 strikeouts and a more impressive 1.82 ERA over seven starts. He is certainly part of Colorado’s future plans on the mound, and the future may just be now.

The Outfield

Starting in left field, the Rockies have Gerardo Parra who batted .253 with seven home runs and 39 RBI over 102 games last season. He’ll likely split time with 22-year-old David Dahl who had a great rookie season hitting .315 over 63 games with seven home runs and 24 RBI.

Center field duties will go to Charlie Blackmon who had an amazing 2016 (.324/29 HR/82 RBI) and has carried it over to spring training where he is batting .467. He will be a critical cog in the middle of the order for the Rockies in 2017.

Lastly, in right field we will likely see another platoon between Carlos Gonzalez and Jordan Patterson. CarGo had a more than respectable 2016, batting .298 with 25 long balls and 100 RBI. He is certainly not slowing down in terms of production, but at 31 years old he can’t play the full 162 games at peak levels. Enter 25-year-old Patterson who is having a great spring (.310/2 HR/6 RBI), and showcasing his talents for some extra playing time.

The Infield

Behind the plate there is a position battle between Tony Wolters and Dustin Garneau. Wolters played more last season, batting .259 over 71 games. However, neither Wolters nor Garneau will be able to replace the value brought by Nick Hundley, who is now on the Giants. Their spring training play should have the management team happy though. Garneau is batting .389 with three home runs, a team leading 11 RBI, and an unheard of 1.514 OPS. Wolters has a .476 average and a 1.274 OPS. If either of them can carry over their March success to the regular season, the Rockies could have a dangerous bat at the bottom of the lineup.

At first base is veteran Ian Desmond whose versatility would be welcomed on any team. Last season he hit .285 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI, while also stealing 21 bases. Desmond broke a bone in his left hand on March 12 after getting hit by a pitch, but his prognosis looks better than expected. Manager Bud Black is optimistic that he will be back sometime in April. Expect similar value from him in 2017 as his leadership will be a driving force for this team.

Over at second is DJ LeMahieu whose .348 average led not just his team, but the league last season. He gives the Rockies a remarkable bat to start the game and he committed a mere six errors all of last season, good for a .991 fielding percentage.

At shortstop, the Rockies possess one of the league’s brightest up-and-coming stars, Trevor Story. He hit .272 in his rookie season with 27 home runs and 72 RBI. He already has four long balls this spring and his 2017 campaign could finish with a .275/30/100 stat line.

Over at third base is another young star in 25-year-old Nolan Arenado. He hit .294 last season with 41 home runs and a league-best 133 RBI. Not often do you find the league’s home run leader and RBI leader in the same lineup, but in 2016 the Rockies had just that.

Schedule

The Rockies 2017 schedule starts and finishes with a plethora of games against their National League West foes. Eighteen of their 26 April games are against their division rivals. Also all but three games in the final month are division games. What they need to take advantage of is an easy stretch in May. Ten of their 14 away games in this month are against the Minnesota Twins, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies, all teams who struggled last year.

The Rockies finished 2016 with a 75-87 record, 16.0 games back of the Dodgers. Their 2-8 record to finish the season was abysmal. They need to put that in the rear view mirror and look ahead to 2017. Are they playoff ready? No. Can they play .500 baseball? Yes. Their lineup is scary, but the pitching is what will hold them back.

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