The Colorado Rockies are quite possibly the most unpredictable NL West squad entering 2017. What do the San Diego Padres need to know about them as spring training approaches?
75-87 is far from an impressive record. Finishing 2016 eight games below .500 was not the result Rockies fans had envisioned. Yet somehow, the club seems to be coming together while remaining under the radar.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres have one more team to worry about this season. As if chasing after the Giants and Dodgers wouldn’t be hard enough, an up and coming ever changing Rockies club makes contending in 2017 seem even more unlikely.
Today we continue our National League West roster analysis by breaking down the Rockies. As an offensive juggernaut, the club is becoming a threat in the division. The Padres will have their hands full this season in their divisional matchups in the Mile High City.
As young and exciting as the Rockies’ roster is, their starting rotation is clearly still a liability. According to the team’s depth chart, 27-year-old Chad Bettis occupies the “ace” role. Bettis has spent four seasons in the majors, two of which he started the majority of his appearances. Even with the potential a young yet experienced starter brings, his 5.01 career ERA is concerning.
San Diego Padres
Following Bettis is Tyler Chatwood, Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, and German Marquez. These starters are also each in their 20s, the youngest being Marquez at 21. Without much experience and without a reliable starter for the Rockies to be able to count on every five days, NL West opponents have the opportunity to get on the board early and often in their matchups with the Rockies.
Coors Field clearly makes it more difficult for Colorado to attract free agent starters, as the small park puts a beating on their stats. Unfortunately for the Rockies, they are going to need to take the weakness of their rotation in stride and do their best to get the most out of these starters as possible.
It’s never easy for any pitching staff to go into Coors Field, given the dimensions of the park and the thin mile high air. But this season, the challenge of pitching in Colorado will be taken to an entire new level.
Colorado’s young lineup features the sneaky power of Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, who can both also hit for average, evident based on their respective .326 and .348 marks from 2016. The lineup also features raw power in the form of Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and young shortstop sensation Trevor Story, who has made a full recovery from thumb surgery.
It all comes together for the Rockies with two influential veterans; outfielder Gerardo Parra and first baseman Ian Desmond. For an otherwise young lineup, these two will contribute to the development of the rest of the club both offensively and in the field. The Rockies are good without Parra and Desmond, but with them, they are complete.
Overall, this Rockies lineup is extremely well balanced. Each player has a role, and if it comes together as many anticipate, this club could once again be towards the top of baseball’s offensive team statistics.
the bullpen of the Rockies isn’t as much of a weak spot as the rotation, but it does raise some concerns. There are few familiar names who are a part of this unit, and only closer Greg Holland is a consistently reliable late inning option.
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Jake McGee and Chad Qualls will be strong mid to late inning relievers. Other than that though, the Rockies are fairly thin in their bullpen. The Padres are not familiar with many of the other young arms they will see this season from this unit, but they shouldn’t be overwhelmingly intimidating.
In short, Colorado’s bullpen, even though stats may be skewed, can be exploited. San Diego and other NL West opponents can use this to their advantage, as it gives offenses a reason to strive to end the starter’s evening.
The bottom line is, the Rockies are going to score a lot of runs this year. They also have the potential to surrender a lot of runs. For the Padres to have success against this overlooked divisional foe, they will have to play Colorado’s style of baseball successfully, pouring on the runs while limiting a well balanced and potent lineup.
Stay tuned the rest of the week as Friars on Base takes a look at the Padres’ four divisional opponents entering spring training!