Colorado Rockies (74-88, 5th, 18 GB )
Overview: The Colorado Rockies had a 10 win improvement in manager Walt Weiss’ first season with the club in 2013 but unfortunately, they still finished 14 games under .500. The Rockies had one of the better offenses in the National League as they were in the top-5 in nearly every offensive category except for walks but had one of the weaker pitching staffs in baseball. OF Carlos Gonzalez and SS Troy Tulowitzki are a dangerous duo when healthy as they both hit over .300 last year and combined for 51 home runs and 152 RBIs but once again, health became an issue. They combined to miss 88 games and since 2010, neither has played more than 145 games. RF Michael Cuddyer was one of the biggest surprises in baseball last year, winning the NL batting title with a .331 batting average and also had 20 home runs and 81 RBIs. Cuddyer’s batting average was almost 60 points higher than his previous career high (.284 in 2006,11). Colorado’s bullpen was a mess last season but the Rockies went out during the offseason and signed LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan. SP Jhoulys Chacin’s spring training injury could be a big storyline early on in the season. His pain in his throwing shoulder has started to flair up again and a timetable of when he will make a start is uncertain. Rockies need to add more pitching depth and stay healthy if they want to be compete in the NL West in 2014.
Troy Tulowitzki is the best SS in the MLB when healthy. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
I see seven guys on the Colorado Rockies roster that can have at least 20 home runs in 2014. Even with the loss of OF Dexter Fowler (traded to HOU), the Rockies offense can be very dangerous if they can stay healthy this year. Gonzalez and Tulowitzki are capable of 30 home runs and 100 RBI seasons as both are one of the best at their positions. Cuddyer’s career year last year was probably a fluke but he can still have 20 and 75. Justin Morneau was acquired in the offseason and takes over at 1B after Todd Helton retired after 17 years as the starting 1B for the Rockies. Morneau has had at least 17 home runs in every year since he entered the league in 2003. Catcher Wilin Rosario’s 20 home runs last year was tops among National League rookies last year. In August, Rosario hit .351 with 5 home runs and 20 RBIs. 3B Nolan Arenado won the NL Gold Glove as a rookie but also had 10 home runs in 133 games. Coors Field had the 8th most home runs in the league last year so we can expect the Rockies to be near the top in home runs in 2014.
Weakness: Starting Rotation Depth
The 2013 starting pitching staff finished the season with a 4.57 era, third lowest in franchise history. Jorge De La Rosa established himself as the #1 starter on the staff, finishing the season with a 16-6 record and a 3.49 era. He will have more pressure on himself this year and will be expected to duplicate his 2013 performance. Jhoulys Chacin went 14-10 with a 3.47 era and was maybe going to be the Opening Day starter. Now Chacin is dealing with pain in his right shoulder and might not be ready until May at the earliest. Behind Chacin, only Brett Anderson who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics, has had 10+ wins in a season. Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio are expected to fill the #4 and #5 slots. Chatwood went 8-5 last year while Nicasio went 9-9 with a 5.14 era. After De La Rosa and Chacin, the Rockies have a huge drop off and need someone to step up this season.
Projected Opening Day Lineup
- CF Drew Stubbs
- 3B Nolan Arenado
- LF Carlos Gonzalez
- SS Troy Tulowitzki
- RF Michael Cuddyer
- 1B Justin Morneau
- C Wilin Rosario
- 2B DJ LeMathieu
- Pitcher Spot
- Jorge De La Rosa
- Brett Anderson
- Tyler Chatwood
- Juan Nicasio
- Franklin Morales/Jordan Lyles
- Jhoulys Chacin (would be #2 if he was healthy)
X Factor: Health
Talent wise, the Colorado Rockies have a team that can contend in the NL West. But once again, health will be the team’s biggest weakness in 2014. Chacin, the team’s #2 starter is already dealing with an injury and since 2010, Gonzalez and Tulowitzki have played a maximum of 145 games. Cuddyer also spent time on the DL last year and Morneau’s health has been an issue in the past four years. If healthy, the Rockies can win 82-87 games but if their stars go down, expect a repeat performance from last year.