Jul 11, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) reacts with Colorado Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) after his two run home run in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Every year at about this time, someone asks me if the Colorado Rockies have a chance? My initial reaction to that question is always the same, a chance to do what? After my sarcasm, I attempt to answer the question honestly and without cracking jokes.
Before we get started, let’s be clear on one thing. I don’t think the Rockies well be any better than last season but since spring training is defined by hope, I will lay out a scenario that would have the Rockies competitive well into the summer.
Can the Rockies stay healthy? If they can, especially the everyday lineup, then they have a chance to win some games. We make fun of them a lot but the middle of the lineup is as good as anyone in baseball.
Troy Tulowitzki, despite his injury history, is still the best all-around shortstop in baseball and was having an outstanding season before getting hurt in August. Carlos Gonzalez battled hand and finger injuries for the entire 2014 season, but appears to be healthy now. Nolan Arenado is the best young third basemen in baseball and should only get better. If each of those players appear in 150+ games, then the Rockies have a chance to remain competitive.
New catcher Nick Hundley should also provide some pop and Corey Dickerson had a breakout season last year. In short, if they stay relatively healthy then the Rockies should score some runs.
Win at home: If the Rockies are going to do anything in 2015, then they have to win 50+ games at Coors Field. In the years that the Rockies went to the playoffs, they dominated at home and managed to stay around .500 on the road. The Rockies are not winning the division, not with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and the San Diego Padres in the National League West. Therefore there only hope is that second wild-card and it will take at least 90 wins to do that. If the Rockies can win 53-55 games at home, they would only need to go .500 on the road to get to that number.
Play better on the road: Stop me if you’ve heard this before. It’s been a problem since the Rockies inception in 1993, they just cannot win on the road. That will have to change if 2015 is going to be any different. I’m not asking them to beat the good teams consistently on the road but they have to beat the lesser teams in order to get to 41 road wins.
Pitching: None of what we are talking about is new. The Rockies, again, have the potential to have a decent starting staff. They are never going to be dominant when half their games are at altitude but with the potential of their offense, they can be competitive. Jorge Del A Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin have to be the workhorses and must win 15+ games apiece.
They also need a positive impact from free agent pitcher, Kyle Kendrick and some growth from their home grown pitchers like Tyler Matzek.
More important than the starting pitching is the bullpen. When the Rockies have played well, their bullpen has been dominant. The formula has been for the starters to get through five or six innings, and then let the bullpen carry them home.
There are other things, many other things that have to go right for the Rockies to stay competitive but those mentioned above are a must.
Now do I believe any of this is going to happen? Not in a million years but as we said earlier, hope is everywhere in spring training.