The Colorado Rockies deal with the same question every year when they gather for spring training.
Will the starting pitching be good enough to help the Rockies contend in the National League West?
Last season Colorado got a mixed bag from its rotation. The top three of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood had a record of 38-21 with a 3.40 ERA. The fourth and fifth spots were a different story as pitchers in those spots compiled a 16-39 record with a 5.95 ERA. The rotation as a whole had an ERA of 4.62.
Even with a consistent top three in their rotation, the Rockies finished in last place in the division with only 74 wins.
When Colorado made the postseason in 2007 and 2009, its pitching was not spectacular but stellar. During their National League title season of 2007, the Rockies had six different pitchers with more than 14 starts. Those starters compiled a 4.45 ERA that season.
The rotation was better in 2009 when the team had a 4.05 ERA and five strong starters throughout the season. The Rockies had five hurlers start over 27 games in 2009. It was the most consistent rotation in Rockies history and was led by blossoming star Ubaldo Jimenez.
Colorado made moves this offseason to bolster their starting pitching. The Rockies traded for lefty Brett Anderson who spent the last five seasons with the Oakland Athletics. The concern with Anderson is his injury history as he dealt with arm and foot problems in his career. Anderson only made over 20 starts once in his career and that was in 2009.
Anderson, De La Rosa, Chacin and Chatwood give the Rockies a formidable foursome in their pitching rotation. A concern came up in spring training as Chacin has been shut down for at least a week due to a right shoulder strain.
If Chacin’s injury is only minor, the Rockies will only searching for a fifth starter in spring. They have several options including Juan Nicasio, Franklin Morales, Jordan Lyles and Christian Friedrich. Colorado also has hot-shot prospects Jon Gray and Eddie Butler in camp. Both could make their major league debuts later in the season but are unlikely to make the team in the spring.
If the rotation can get their ERA down closer to four or even lower, the Rockies should contend in the division. Colorado’s lineup is still potent with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Michael Cuddyer and Wilin Rosario.
The National League West is no easy task. The Dodgers are loaded with talent which led them to a division title last season, the Giants have won two recent World Series crowns and the Diamondbacks and Padres are always improving. The Rockies have an uphill climb but will a little help on the mound they should be in the thick of things.
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