The Dodgers are currently tied with the Colorado Rockies for first place in the NL West, and the Rockies don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. As the Dodgers search for their fifth consecutive division title, they are tasked with a new foe. Are the Rockies the real deal or will they falter as the season continues?
Coming into the season, the Dodgers expected to fight off the San Francisco Giants for the division crown. However, the Giants have stunk and losing Madison Bumgarner to a freak injury hasn’t helped. Instead, the Colorado Rockies took their spot as the Dodgers’ main competition.
The Rockies are a legit threat, and it’s time to start treating them as one.
The Rockies have always had a dangerous lineup, but this year they are starting to put it all together. The team has scored the 4th most runs this season and has a +66 run differential. They have a potent offense that can put up runs with the best of them.
MVP candidate Nolan Arenado is the face of the team, and he’s having another excellent season. He currently owns a .284/.341/.540 slash line with 14 home runs and 21 doubles. All in all, Arenado is the heart and soul of this team, and they go as he goes.
Their X-factor on offense this year has been in the leadoff role. Charlie Blackmon has quietly been putting up the best stats on the team and is making a case for being the best center fielder not named Mike Trout. Blackmon is batting .325 with 15 home runs, 53 RBI, and a 136 OPS+. He also leads the National League in triples and hits. Blackmon is more than doing his job as the table-setter for the team.
The lineup is filled out by names like DJ LeMahieu, who is having another solid season, and Ian Desmond who is hitting well enough to warrant the contract the Rockies shelled out to him during the offseason. Combine that with Mark Reynolds who has 17 home runs on the season and the team has a solid core of production.
The lineup can be even scarier if Trevor Story and Carlos Gonzalez bounce back from their slow starts to the season. When Gerardo Parra returns from the DL, they will gain a formidable bench piece.
The surprise of this team so far has been its pitching staff. Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland are both making a case for Rookie of the Year. The pair of rookies have a 3.57 and 3.84 ERA, respectively, and have been the bright spots for the team. They both have under a 1.40 WHIP, and each guy has a 2.0 WAR. They may not be great numbers (the WAR is good at this stage), but considering they are rookies doing this when pitching half their games at Coors Field, they are pretty impressive. The Rockies may have just found their starters of the future.
Jeff Hoffman has only four starts in the 2017 season, but he holds a 2.37 ERA and looks much better than he did last season. Their biggest disappointments this season have been Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson because the team expected good numbers from them this season.
The real strength of this team though has been the back end of its bullpen. Greg Holland is proving to the world that a pitcher can come back from Tommy John surgery and regain his old form. Holland’s given up a total of three runs this season and leads the league in saves with 23.
Jake McGee has been his setup man, and after a poor 2016 season, he has rebounded nicely to own a 1.40 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. The Rockies’ starters have been doing their job well enough to get the ball to their bullpen, who in return have been lights out.
The Dodgers and Rockies have been swapping spots at the top of the NL West all season, and the Dbacks are not far behind. If I had to pick a genuine threat to dethrone the Dodgers, it would be the Rockies, and it’s for a good reason. Their potent offense has always been the strength of their team, but this year it may be the afterthought.
Their pitchers have been the reason for this team’s success, and when they add team ace Jon Gray back, they will only get stronger. Let’s just hope that Dave Roberts and the Boys in Blue can hold them off.