The Colorado Rockies’ starting pitching continues to struggle year-in and year-out. Is it time to invest money into a front-line ace for the rotation?
It is no secret that the Colorado Rockies’ pitching is the weak link to the team. Between the starting pitching and poor bullpen, the Rockies struggle to keep runs off of the board. Last season, the Rockies deployed numerous starting pitchers; however, none of them look better than number three guys in the rotation, outside of prospect Jon Gray. Despite Jon Gray’s effectiveness late last season, the Rockies held him to a strict innings limit. Gray likely opens the 2016 season as either the top arm in the rotation or the number two.
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Ubaldo Jimenez presented the last ace the Colorado Rockies had on their staff, and he proved that a pitcher can post solid numbers pitching primarily in Coors Field. In Jimenez’s 2010 All-Star season, he won an eye-popping 19 games to the tune of a 2.88 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Sure, Coors Field presents its problems for pitchers; however, the Rockies fail to roster quality pitchers each year. When the Rockies made their 2007 World Series run, ultimately, they lost the series because the Red Sox out-pitched them, ending in a 4-0 sweep.
It is disappointing that the Colorado Rockies do not spend money on quality pitching to complement their plus hitting. With Troy Tulowitzki gone, the Rockies depend on Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez to shoulder the load. In addition to Arenado and Gonzalez’s big bats, the Rockies possess one of the best farm systems in the league; however, their farm system is loaded with bats. Jon Gray and Jeff Hoffman headline their pitching prospect pipeline, but Hoffman is not expected to contribute to the Major League roster until 2017.
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With plenty of capable bats in the lineup (D.J. LeMahieu, Corey Dickerson, Nolan Arenado, and Carlos Gonzalez), the Colorado Rockies need to pursue a top of the rotation arm to steer them in the right direction. There are plenty of options for the Colorado Rockies to pursue via free agency; however, there are only a few clear-cut aces in the mix. David Price, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and Jordan Zimmerman present solid options that can transform a rotation just with their presence.
The downside to Price, Greinke, and Cueto is that their services will come at a premium ($120M or higher), and likely, numerous teams will bid for them to headline their rotations. However, outside of the big three, plenty of options still exist for the Colorado Rockies to sign. Despite down seasons from Mat Latos and Jeff Samardzija, they present nice club-friendly options for the Rockies. Both Latos and Samardzija looked for big paydays this offseason, but their poor performances in 2015 limit their value.
Latos and Samardzija may look for shorter contracts (2 to 3 years) to bounce back from their poor 2015 seasons. Also, their services likely come at a club-friendly price. In addition to Latos and Samardzija, Mike Leake, Scott Kazmir, and Marco Estrada offer capable arms to bolster the Colorado Rockies rotation; however, the trio’s services likely fall between the ace price tag and the bounce back candidate price tag. In short, the Rockies need to sign someone to bring confidence to the Denver-area.
House That Hank Built
With one of the aforementioned arms added to the Colorado Rockies’ rotation, the team jumps out as a contender in the National League West. The Dodgers’ offense looks anemic at times, and by losing Zack Greinke, the team will lean on Clayton Kershaw to shoulder the load. Also, they are in the midst of changing managers, so perhaps, the Dodgers missed their chance at a World Series title. The Giants present a tough matchup next season because of their capable bats mixed with good pitching; however, they lose Leake to free agency, and Madison Bumgarner headlines a pitching rotation that is thin behind him.
The Padres look to be heading in the wrong direction, selling their farm system for high-profile players; however, that strategy did not translate to success on the diamond. Also, the Padres lack dominant pitching, with Andrew Cashner struggling in 2015 and losing Ian Kennedy to free agency. Last, the Diamondbacks do not have enough hitting to survive in the West. Paul Goldschmidt carries that team on his back, and their rotation is rather thin; although, they do have good arms in their farm system. But, arms in the farm system are question marks until they reach the MLB.
With the National League West in a shake-up this offseason, 2016 presents a chance for the Colorado Rockies to waltz in and steal the show. They have the best offense in the division, and if upper management decides to pursue some quality arms, watch out. The Rockies do not necessarily need to pursue arms via free agency, because they can pursue the trade market with their deep farm system. Moreover, some of their prospects could prove to be expendable if the price is right. If the Rockies improve their pitching in the offseason, they may have years of success down the line.