SPORTS: Rockies Starting Pitching

The first of three articles previewing the 2018 Rockies season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Denver Broncos just wrapped up a horrendous season that makes the upcoming NFL draft the most exciting part of this season. That means it’s time to turn our collective sports attention to the Colorado Rockies.

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The Colorado Rockies played 9 innings of playoff baseball this past year tying the league record for shortest playoff in postseason history. While this is an obvious shit record to win, the Rockies are set to make another push for the October in ‘18. A division title out of the west has eluded the ballclub since the team started playing baseball in Colorado. It’s hard to believe the team that has visited the playoffs four times since 1995 and represented the National League in the World Series has never finished with the best record in the West.

That probably won’t end in 2018. The Dodgers are stacked and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially with Los Angeles moving into a position to make splash into next year’s supergroup of free agents (Bryce Harper on the Dodgers keeps me up at night). Instead of the Rockies trying to catch the Dodgers over the course of 162 games, they must turn their attention to the wild card game once again. This time, however, the Rockies are in a spot to make a deep playoff run.

Pitching in Coors Field is shit; always has been and most likely always will be. While the effects of the humidor have turned 20th and Blake into a much more respectable park as far as keeping the ball from completely jumping out of the yard. Coors field is huge and a hitter’s park no matter how many altitude-defying-tricks are deployed. Large gaps mean triples are found everywhere, while the infield plays fast making pitching at home like having to play poker without the benefit of ever being able to fold. Luckily for the 2018 Rockies they may finally have the pitching to tame the beast.

THE PITCHING STAFF

I love the top two on this starting rotation. The damn Colorado Rockies have a chance to have two legit starting pitchers which, for the uninitiated sports fan, is the equivalent of an EDM song having good lyrics.

People forget that Jon Gray is still growing up in front of our eyes. He’s still a young pup even though he’s been a dominant force on the staff for two years. Gray strikes people out, it’s what he does best. He lost two months because of toe injury last season which was unfortunate because he was blossoming into a bonafide strikeout monster that could take down the best hitters in baseball. At 26, the innings aren’t heavy due to non-arm related injuries and innings limits. A stud young horse who averages 9 strikeouts a game and only averaged 2 walks is the envy of most General Managers in baseball.

German Marquez is the forgotten hero of the staff – a solid number two starter who gives this team a 1-2 punch that on paper looks like it has the potential to give this team actual chance on the pitching front. But it doesn’t stop there. In a bold prediction that may throw away any of the miniscule credibility we have here, German Marquez will win 20 games this year. Marquez has the best stuff on the staff when you start looking at the control of multiple pitches. The command of the changeup to go along with the breaking pitches gives him the slight edge over Gray. The stats aren’t there yet to give this prediction much water to float on for now, but if it plays out you will remember where you heard it first. The command *oh sweet baby the command* on this 24 year old. If he is able to put it all together this summer the strikeouts and the ability to throw all his pitches in any count make for a chance for a star to be born.

Tyler Anderson comes into the fold at what I consider the most pivotal spot on any team’s rotation. The third starter is the guy that can swing momentum and usually where your pitching depth is first noticed. When your staff has a legit number 3 pitcher, that starting depth translates into a shit-ton of wins. People forget how good Tyler Anderson was last year when he was finally healthy from August – on. He is the smartest pitcher on the staff and a cerebral mind in the staff is always a great thing.

Chad Bettis, the fan-favorite and hero not only has the stuff to be in consideration for the third spot, but he has the competitiveness nature of an ace. This guy will not be beat between the ears, and on days when his stuff isn’t there you can still expect him to keep the team in the game. And when you have the lineup the Rockies have, it means you’re probably gonna win.

FIFTH STARTER?

The fifth starter is where the controversy begins and oh boy is it the best kind of controversy. It’s too many talented starters vying for one pitching spot and not only are they talented, but they are young. Young starting pitchers are the hottest commodity in all of baseball with teams willing to trade away so many prospects or position players for young, controllable starters. Depending on injuries or how the overall season turns out, this could leave a team ready to strike at any moment. Let’s get into the three legit contenders for the fifth spot who would be no doubters to make the starting five on any other team:

First is last year’s local boy in Kyle Freeland. Freeland has all the inside track to snag this spot after having a very successful rookie season. Jeff Hoffman is another option for the fifth spot and like Freeland, it’s another very good young option to have. Hoffman showed the ability last season to start or come out of the bullpen. That’s another quality arm that could either be a force in the staff or molt into a a multi-inning bullpen piece that could be used in the same way Andrew Miller is worked for the Cleveland Indians.

Lastly, is dark horse Antonio Sanzetela, who could push the other youngsters into the bullpen or back to the minors. Command is the name of the game here with Sanzetela. If he’s able to control his fastball and continue to develop his secondary pitches this Spring, there is a good chance he will be the fifth starter and Hoffman and Freeland could find themselves in Albuquerque or the bullpen. Freeland probably wins this fifth spot but if his numbers start to falter, look for the Rockies to turn to Hoffman or Sanzetela. There is a good chance all three start at various points throughout the season as a way for the team to control the innings on these young, budding starter’s arms.

Projected Starting Rotation and stats

(Win-Loss, ERA- Earned Runs Average)

1.-Gray (16-9 3.52)

2.-Marquez (20-8 2.74)

3.-Anderson (11-10 3.73)

4.-Bettis (15-12 4.37)

5.-Freeland ( 9-13 4.80)

*ERA or Earned Run Average simply put, is the average number of runs a pitcher allows over 9 innings

If the Colorado Rockies get anywhere near these numbers from the starting pitchers next season get ready to wear purple and black well into October. Pitching in Coors can be hell for the guys on the mound but shit, with the pitching this team has accrued we are saying they have a chance. So at the very least get excited Colorado because once the boys are back in town they damn well might stay there till November.