In 2009, before my second full season of blogging the Cardinals, I reached out to other bloggers to other teams to get insights on their clubs. This year, instead of going through the teams alphabetically, we’ll approach it a little differently, spending a week with each division. For the tenth straight season, get ready for the upcoming MLB season by playing a little pepper.
The Rockies surprised some folks last year, putting up a solid season and grabbing the last Wild Card slot. While their playoff run didn’t extend past that moment, it still was a wonderful season for the folks in purple. Today, we’ve got a Colorado blogger to tell us how likely it is that this is not a blip on the radar but a continued trend.
C70: What are your thoughts on the offseason? Did the club improve over the winter?
Kevin: Yes, the Rockies improved their bullpen by adding Bryan Shaw to the mix. Wade Davis brings consistency to the closer position but will he fare better than Greg Holland did last season? That’s a big question. Holland was solid except for a horrid stretch in August.
The only change in the lineup (as of this writing) is catcher Chris Iannetta being added to the mix. Jonathan Lucroy was a solid pickup for the Rockies at the trade deadline and his veteran leadership paid big dividends for a rookie-laden rotation. If Iannetta can keep teaching, Colorado’s young pitchers such as Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman can progress nicely this season.
However, Colorado still needs another bat in the lineup, in my opinion. It’s possible that the return of David Dahl from injury and the likely promotion of Ryan McMahon to first base will help, but it would be nice to have a veteran slugger in the order to go along with Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu.
C70: There are always questions about Colorado pitching. What does the rotation look like this season?
Kevin: Last season proved the Rockies can grow their own pitching … and it can work. Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela were huge reasons why the Rockies made the playoffs last year. The rotation will be very similar in 2018, except that Jon Gray and Chad Bettis should be available for full seasons after missing big portions of last season. Pitching will be one of the strengths of the Rockies this season. Yes, you read that correctly.
C70: What’s one thing people may overlook (either positively or negatively) about this team?
Kevin: This team made the playoffs last year without David Dahl, who burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2016, and with Ian Desmond having a dismal season. Carlos Gonzalez disappointed for much of the season and Trevor Story totaled 190 strikeouts as he struggled in his sophomore year. There were a lot of reasons why Colorado shouldn’t have held off Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot … yet they did. That resiliency will pay dividends for a young team in 2018.
C70: Who is the one key player, the guy that must have a good year for the Rockies to do well?
Kevin: It all starts at the top with Charlie Blackmon. Last season, he had a historic season for a leadoff hitter. When he is clicking, so is Colorado’s offense. He not only sets the tone as the leadoff batter but also sets the table for Nolan Arenado to rack up a huge number of RBI every year.
C70: What’s your projection for 2018? Where does the team wind up overall?
Kevin: I will go with 84-78 and once again earning a Wild Card berth in what will be a tough National League West.
C70: What’s one question I should have asked and what’s the answer to it?
Kevin: Is this a make-or-break year for the Rockies? My answer would be yes. Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu are scheduled to be free agents after this season and their returns to Colorado are questionable. Will Colorado sign them to long-term deals knowing Nolan Arenado is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2019 season? Will the Rockies do everything they can to keep Arenado, even if it means letting go of other players? Those are the questions that Rockies fans are asking right now and one of the reasons why the Rockies may be “all in” on 2018.
Appreciate Kevin making the time to let us know more about the Mile High team. It’s always fun to see what Colorado can do during a season and here’s hoping they make it another great year for their fans!