2018 Colorado Rockies preview

2018 MLB preview: Colorado Rockies

2017: 87-75 (third place in the NL West)

Last postseason appearance: 2017


2017 Recap

In Bud Black’s first season as manager of the Colorado Rockies, the 2010 Manager of the Year coached his team to 87 wins and earned a spot in the NL Wild Card Game. Although they lost the game to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado had a very successful season.

The Rockies offense absolutely took advantage of playing 82 games at Coors Field, which, at 5,200 feet above sea level, is the highest park in the majors. The high elevation, mixed with the low air density, led to Colorado finishing first in the NL in hits, runs, batting average and on-base percentage and second in OPS.

2018 Colorado Rockies preview

Arenado and Blackmon finished fourth and fifth in NL MVP voting. (Photo from 104.3 The Fan)

Colorado was fortunate to have both Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, two of the best players in the league. Arenado, who finished fourth in NL MVP, had his third-straight season with at least a .285 batting average, 35 home runs, 130 RBIs and 350 total bases. To put that into perspective, Hank Aaron did this twice in his career, while Barry Bonds did this just once (2001).

Arenado ranked second in RBIs, third in total bases and extra-base hits, sixth in defensive WAR and SLG, seventh in overall WAR, doubles and triples, eighth in OPS and 10th in hits. He also won his fifth-straight Gold Glove Award, solidifying himself as one of the top defenders in this game. The 26-year-old is on pace to be one of the best third basemen this game has ever seen.

Blackmon now has the MLB Record for the most RBIs by a leadoff hitter, knocking in 103 of his 104 from the top spot. He also became the first player in MLB history to lead the league in hits, runs, triples and total bases in the same season. He also finished second in batting average and times on base, fourth in SLG, fifth in offensive WAR and OPS and eighth in singles. He finished one spot (fifth) behind Arenado in NL MVP voting.

Blackmon became the seventh player in the last 80 years to have a season with at least 210 hits, 130 runs, .330 batting average and 35 home runs (Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Alex Rodriguez, Ellis Burks, Todd Helton and Albert Pujols).

2018: Around the Diamond

After 2018, Blackmon will be a free agent, and a year later, Arenado will be open to the market. With that said, the window of opportunity is shrinking.

Colorado will showcase almost the exact same lineup as they did in 2017. However, they did sign catcher Chris Iannetta, who played his first six years in Colorado. Iannetta will start behind the plate, with Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy also earning some playing time.

The Rockies do not appear to be interested in bringing back Mark Reynolds, which leaves a starting spot open at first base. Ryan McMahon, who struggled in his first stint at the MLB level in 2017, has shortened his swing and will be the everyday first baseman in 2018.

McMahon had tremendous success in Double and Triple-A during his 2017 campaign. In 119 games, McMahon hit .355 with 20 home runs and 11 steals. While he does not appear to have huge power, McMahon will hit for a high average and even swipe a few bases.

Joining McMahon around the infield will be DJ LeMahieu, who finished tied for eighth in hits, Trevor Story and Arenado. Left to right, the Rockies will have Ian Desmond, Charlie Blackmon, and Carlos Gonzalez, who they re-signed on March 12.

On the Bump

As expected because of ballpark conditions, the Rockies pitching was not great. Among the 15 NL teams, Colorado finished eighth in home runs allowed, ninth in ERA, 10th in hits and 11th in strikeouts. However, they do have some nice talent in their rotation.

2018 Colorado Rockies preview

Jon Gray is ready to be the ace of the Rockies. (Photo from The Denver Post)

Jon Gray, who spent time on the DL with a stress fracture in his left foot, will head into 2018 as the clear ace of the staff. The 26-year-old went 10-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 20 starts last year. He posted a 3.13 ERA at home, which clearly shows he is ready to be a No. 1 starter. His 3.18 FIP was the second-best in franchise history.

Gray will be followed by Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Chad Bettis and Kyle Freeland. Anderson, who was banged up last season, was tremendous in September. In the last month of the season, Anderson, in 22 2/3 innings, posted a 1.19 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. Marquez, who is just 23 years old, finished fifth in NL ROY voting. Look for Jeff Hoffman and Antonio Senzatela to also fight for some starts.

To replace Greg Holland, whose 41 saves were second-most in the MLB, Colorado brought in Wade Davis. Davis has made three straight All-Star appearances and is one of the best relievers in the game. Davis leads a solid bullpen, which includes Jake McGee, Adam Ottavino, Mike Dunn and former Indians pitcher, Bryan Shaw.

The Future

Excluding Ryan McMahon (No. 41), the Rockies have two other prospects on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list. Their highest ranked prospect, Brendan Rodgers (No. 14), is one of the best young middle infielders in the minors. The third overall pick in 2015, Rogers, in 89 games between A+ and Double-A, hit .336 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs. He is a tremendous hitter with great defensive skills. Rodgers has also hit three home runs this spring.

Riley Pint (No. 100), is Colorado’s best pitching prospect. Pint, the fourth overall pick in 2016, struggled last season in Single-A, but is just 20 years of age. His fastball can reach triple-digits, and his off-speed stuff gives him a legitimate shot to eventually be a starter at the top of the rotation.

2018 Prediction: 84-78

The Rockies will be right in the mix for a spot in the playoffs. If the pitching can develop as hoped, look for them to be playing in the NL Wild Card Game once again.


Featured image by MLB.com

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Jeremy

“From our Haus to Yours”

Colorado Rockies

Buy or Sell: Colorado Rockies Starting Pitching

The Colorado Rockies play home games in a very unique environment. Their stadium, Coors Field, is located in Denver, Colorado, about one mile above sea level. The altitude factor at Coors Field has been notorious for negatively affecting pitchers and positively affecting hitters.

The two major forces acting upon a baseball are gravitational and frictional force. The gravitational force acts on a baseball by bringing it straight downward and is generally the same in all ballparks. The frictional force is the amount of friction caused by the baseball rubbing against molecules in the air. Due to the altitude at Coors Field, the air molecules are 15 percent less dense than at other ball parks.

For pitchers, this causes fastballs to be faster and curveballs to be flatter, which in theory could be positive or negative for specific pitchers. The Rockies tried to take advantage of this theory in 2001 when they signed 1998 CY Young runner-up Mike Hampton.

At that time, Hampton only threw a fastball, cutter and changeup, which the Rockies’ organization believed would be a successful arsenal for Coors Field. Short story even shorter, Hampton spent two seasons in Colorado and finished his tenure with a 21-28 record, 5.75 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in just over 380 innings pitched.

For hitters, lesser air density results in batted baseballs flying higher and further since there is less air resistance to decelerate the ball. These factors can be the difference between flying out to the warning track or hitting a home run.

Since being established in 1993, the Rockies have had only two Cy Young candidates with Jeff Francis in 2007 and Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010. With this in mind, many fantasy baseball owners disregard Rockies’ pitching.

However, the Rockies are in first place with a 22-13 record, showing that their pitchers may have more to offer than we originally thought.


BUY: Antonio Senzatela, RHP

Colorado Rockies

The electric rookie has provided a strong presence for the Rockies (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports).

  • 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 4.91 K/9


Senzatela has quietly been the Rockies’ best player so far. He has managed to compile five quality wins in his first seven starts. He has had trouble striking batters out, but that has never been his motive.

The 22-year-old has a minor-league career record of 41-19 with a 2.45 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 6.6 K/9. Senzatela’s transition from the minors to majors could not have gone more smoothly. His arsenal of pitches follows the Rockies blueprint, as he throws a fastball, slider and changeup.

What stands out about Senzatela is his incredible walk rates. His career walk percentage has never been over seven percent. For the analytical gurus, Senzatela’s xFIP is a poor 4.59, and his HR/FB ratio is only average at 8.9 percent. It is understandable to think his numbers are not sustainable, although I disagree.

I believe he has all of the qualities to succeed in Colorado. His arsenal seems suited for Coors Field, and his previous success has been immaculate. The sky is the limit for the Rockies interim ace.


SELL: Kyle Freeland, LHP

Colorado Rockies

Kyle Freeland looks to find success in his next start against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by The Denver Post)

  • 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 5.9 K/9


Freeland has astounded so far in 2017. However, a drop off in performance should be expected.

The Rockies rookie has a career minor-league record of 17-12 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 6.1 K/9. He has a career ground-ball rate of around 53 percent, although his current ground-ball rate is up at 66 percent. That is sure to drop. Once his ground-ball diminishes back to his career averages, his home run rate is sure to rise.

Also, the 23-year-old has an xFIP of 4.18 and BABIP of .272. Both suggest that his performance will decline soon enough.


BUY: Tyler Chatwood, RHP

Colorado Rockies

Tyler Chatwood tosses complete game shut-out against San Francisco. (Photo by Purple Row)

  • 3-4 with a 4.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 6.4 K/9


Chatwood has been subpar, although a turnaround is imminent. The 27-year-old has a career 4.24 ERA, which is obviously nothing to get too excited over, but he has shown signs of excellence on multiple occasions this season.

He threw a complete game shutout against the San Francisco Giants. He also held the league’s best offense, the Arizona Diamondbacks, to only one earned run in seven innings of work. His main pitches are his fastball and cutter, but he also uses a changeup and curveball to keep hitters off-balance.

Chatwood has a ground-ball rate of 57 percent and an xFIP of 3.87, which shows he is a ground-ball pitcher with average independent fielding stats. As long as he keeps the ball on the ground, he should find success in Colorado.


SELL: German Marquez

Colorado Rockies

German Marquez is filling in for injured Jon Gray quite nicely. (Photo by the Denver Post)

  • 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 7.9 K/9


Marquez has been very inconsistent in his first four starts after being called up to replace an injured Jon Gray. He has shown multiple signs of excellence, as he carried a no-hitter into the seventh against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. He also shut out the Diamondbacks in six innings on May 30.

The 22-year-old has a minor-league career ERA of 3.61 and has severally struggled with allowing home runs. He has a career home-run-to-fly-ball (HR/FB) ratio of 11.1 percent, which is considered poor. This trend is very worrisome since Coors Field is not forgiving to fly-ball pitchers.

Marquez also relies heavily on his curveball, which does not bode well at Coors Field either. This specific pitch will drop much less in Colorado than at any other big league park.


BUY: Tyler Anderson, LHP

Colorado Rockies

Tyler Anderson is a young stud off to a rough start in 2017. (Photo by Purple Row)

  • 2-3 with a 6.69 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9


Anderson has struggled in all six of his last seven starts. However, I believe it is too early to give up on the 27-year-old. He has a career minor-league ERA of 2.38, WHIP of 1.10 and K/9 of 7.4. Clearly the potential is there, but his early struggles have caused owners to drop him at alarming rates.

The first-round pick in 2011 has faced the Dodgers twice, the Nationals, Giants, Brewers and Diamondbacks so far. Four of these five teams have top-12 scoring offenses, while three of them are ranked one, two and three consecutively.

Anderson’s HR/FB rate is at an astronomical 24.3 percent, which will not sustain itself. Also, his career ground-ball rate is about 49 percent, which is ways apart from his current 40 percent ground-ball rate. His ratios will go back to normal, and he will surely find success this season.

BUY: Jon Gray, RHP

Colorado Rockies

Jon Gray and his lion’s mane currently have no timetable for return. (Photo by of Elise Amendola of the Associated Press.

  • 0-0 with a 4.38 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 6.6 K/9


Gray finished 2016 in sixth place in the National League Rookie of the Year voting after recording a 10-10 record, 4.61 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 168 innings.

The 25-year-old was slated to be the Rockies ace in 2017, although he is currently on the 10-day disabled list with a stress fracture in his foot. He is without a firm timetable for his return, although he has been actively throwing and will go for a follow-up on his foot this Thursday.

Gray has an immaculate career K/9 of 9.5, which will make him fantasy relevant whenever he steps on the mound. Although foot injuries are usually serious and tend to linger, this may be the time to buy low on a possibly elite fantasy commodity.


(Featured image by MLB.com)

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Avery!

“From Our Haus to Yours”