It’s been a minute since we checked in on the Colorado Rockies. After back-to-back playoff seasons, expectations are high.
As much as the Colorado Rockies are riding mostly the same roster into the 2019 season, things look quite a bit different up and down the lineup. Newly extended Nolan Arenado and fellow superstar Trevor Story remain on the left side of the infield. DJ LeMahieu has moved on to the big city lights of New York, so last year’s rookie stud Ryan McMahon has settled in at second base and the ageless Daniel Murphy has taken over at first.
Big changes in the Rockies outfield with David Dahl starting in left and the surprise move of the spring, shuttling phenom Charlie Blackmon to right and former 1B Ian Desmond to center. Desmond has responded well this spring and his speed should allow for little defensive dropoff.
Speaking of ageless, Chris Iannetta remains slotted as the opening day catcher, partly due to injury woes for Tony Wolters and plate struggles for Tom Murphy. Garrett Hampson and Raimel Tapia are showing well and should get significant time in the outfield. Really, other than Tapia and Murphy, all of the Rockies rotation players should look familiar to fans.
On the mound, a solid starting rotation featuring Tyler Anderson, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Jon Gray and Chad Bettis should also look familiar to Rockies fans. Gray in particular has shown well this spring and hopes to rebound from an unsteady 2018 campaign. Antonio Senzatela, Jeff Hoffman and Chi Chi Gonzalez are also competing for starter spots. The bullpen, also unsteady in 2018 returns many of the usual suspects.
Rockies manager Bud Black was also extended during the early spring, giving stability to the architect of two straight playoff showings. While we can’t quite get the taste of the shellacking the Milwaukee Brewers put on our Rox in the NLDS, it seems unlikely that the bats will go silent in October to the extent they did during the 2018 playoffs. Colorado simply has too much offensive firepower to score as inefficiently as they did in the playoffs and, honestly for long stretches of the 2018 season.
While Story and Arenado are prolific offensive talents and deserve praise, they are both going to have to show that in September to legitimize their star status. The same goes for Blackmon, who flirts with the batting title every year but has been conspicuously absent in both of the last two . late season pushes.
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With the Broncos in transition and the Nuggets occupying a lofty position late in the NBA season, the Rockies may be under-the-radar but this is as exciting a squad as has taken the field in their 26 seasons. Expect big things from this team, possibly the biggest of things, if the baseball gods choose to smile on this team and keep it healthy.