Let’s face it, there really isn’t any buzz or expectations heading into the 2015 season for our beloved Colorado Rockies. That may be a good thing, however. Last seasons team was derailed by injury yet again – a reoccurring theme over the past few seasons. Colorado started out hot just like 2013, collecting a record of 22-14 in their first 36 games played. As soon as injuries to key players Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Jhoulys Chacin, Nolan Arenado, etc, Colorado faltered to the bottom of the standings, going 37-73 over their last 110 games.
Rockies fans everywhere were hoping to see new general manager Jeff Bridich make a splash during the offseason. If you were looking for that splash, it didn’t happen as Bridich took the cautious yet conservative approach during his first full offseason, which is understandable. Colorado went the route of adding depth. The team went out and signed veterans Kyle Kendrick and John Axford to add some leadership stability to a staff who finished dead last in the National League with an ERA 4.84. Colorado is also hoping the return of Jhoulys Chacin can help improve a starting rotation that finished worst in all of baseball.
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In case you missed Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post’s article the other day, “Colorado Rockies build a bullpen that really brings the heat“, the team focused on bringing in power arms this offseason. We saw exactly what a flame-throwing bullpen can do for you, just look at what the Kansas City Royals did last season. They [Royals] ended up representing the American League in the World Series, only to get up-ended by the National League West rival San Francisco Giants. Who would have thought Kansas City out of all teams would represent the AL in the World Series, let alone make the playoffs.
Colorado has an incredible offense, yet the home/road splits have always been a thing of concern. The team needs to learn how to hit on the road (obviously), but might have to settle for the small-ball route on the road if need be. Who knows if that will happen but it’s an interesting debate nonetheless.
Back to the topic. There’s a lot of uncertainty for the Rockies heading to the 2015 season mainly due to the minimal moves made in the offseason. So let me ask you the reader this. Did Colorado do enough to compete in the tough National League West? My answer is no, but I don’t necessarily think they needed to make a splash to do so. I personally wanted to see Colorado make an offer at a player like James Shields but he is now a rival on the San Diego Padres. If Jhoulys Chacin returns to form, Colorado has a solid 1-2-3 punch in Jorge De La Rosa, Chacin, and Tyler Matzek. If the Rockies can solidify that 4-5 rotation spot (Jordan Lyles, Tyler Chatwood?, Kyle Kendrick, David Hale), they will surprise the baseball world.
My overall take is pretty generic and simple, something we’ve been saying for years with this club. The whole, “if they stay healthy, they have a chance.” Hopefully the Law of Averages is in their favor this year, especially for Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Colorado is relying on these two to stay healthy and help their ball club win games. Colorado’s offense is as potent as any other team in the league, it will all come down to their rotation and bullpen.
Position Player to Watch For: Corey Dickerson, LF.
- Dickerson was a pleasant surprise during the woeful 2014 campaign. Although he wasn’t a mainstay in the starting lineup until later in the season, he made the most out of his opportunity. In 131 games played, the outfielder hit at a line of .312/.364/.567 with 27 doubles, 6 triples, 24 home runs, and 76 RBI’s. Dickerson struck out 101 times in 436 at-bats, in which the Rockies want him to work on his plate discipline. Let’s see if Dickerson can improve/repeat what he did this upcoming season.
Pitcher to Watch For: Tyler Matzek, SP.
- Like Dickerson, Matzek was wonderful surprise as a starting pitcher. Matzek dealt with his struggles in the minors, but he quickly erased that and pitched well at the Major League level. The 24-year-old native of Mission Viejo, California collected a record of 6-11, with a 4.05 ERA in 19 starts. Over 117.2 innings pitched, Matzek gave up 53 runs/53 earned, while striking out 91. Colorado will be depending on the second-year pro to help improve their rotation.
At best, I see this team as a potential Wild Card team. It’s hard to slate them above the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants due to their pitching staffs, but who knows – it’s baseball. Like I mentioned earlier in the column, who had Kansas City in the World Series, let alone making the playoffs?
At worst, injuries will continue to pile up and it will be the same old, same old Colorado Rockies at 20th and Blake.
When it’s all said and done, I believe the lack of expectation and buzz around the Rockies entering the 2015 campaign is a good thing not only for their players, but the fans as well. No one was talking about the 2007 Colorado Rockies until they won 21 out of their final 22 games, ending up in the World Series. A bit optimistic? Probably. But we all know Colorado’s offense is as good as it gets; pitching is the question mark.