Colorado Rockies 2015 Preview

27
Mar

2014 Record – 66-96, 4th in NL West

Key Additions

C Nick Hundley, P Kyle Kendrick

Key Departures

OF Michael Cuddyer, IF Josh Rutledge

Projected 2015 Lineup

  1. CF Charlie Blackmon
  2. RF Carlos Gonzalez
  3. SS Troy Tulowitzki
  4. 1B Justin Morneau
  5. 3B Nolan Arenado
  6. LF Corey Dickerson
  7. C Wilin Rosario
  8. 2B DJ LeMahieu
  9. Pitcher

Projected 2015 Starters

  1. RHP Kyle Kendrick
  2. RHP Jordan Lyles
  3. LHP Tyler Matzek
  4. RHP Eddie Butler
  5. RHP David Hale/RHP Jon Gray

*Note* – LHP Jorge De La Rosa is not mentioned due to injury.

Breakdown

If you like an offseason of uneventfulness, then the Colorado Rockies were the team for you. When Kyle Kendrick is your biggest acquisition and Michael Cuddyer was your biggest departure, you know it has been a pretty quiet winter. And for the Rockies to have any chance at competing in 2015, they needed a very eventful winter. That didn’t happen.

This year’s Rockies will be like last year’s Rockies, and the same Rockies you see almost every year. 

They can hit, sure. The Mile High City does that to you. They can’t pitch, of course. It’s like a broken record here.

I hate to rag on the Rockies, but something has to change here. As great as Troy Tulowitzki CAN BE, he is continuously hampered by injuries. You also have Carlos Gonzalez, another big bat in the lineup. But he missed a large portion of last season due to a knee injury. I’m not saying CarGo is injury prone, but it will be something to follow.

Lastly, the Rockies were 28-27 with Tulo and CarGo in the lineup last season; 19-47 when they were both missing. From 2009-14, the Rockies were 238-215 with both in the lineup; 195-283 when missing.1 The recipe for success for this team is the health of these two players. If they play, the team can win some ball games.

X-Factor – Troy Tulowitzki

The last full season Troy Tulowitzki played was back in 2011. He hit .302 with 30 HR, 105 RBI, 36 doubles, and had a .372 OBP. There weren’t many shortstops better than him at the time. The guy was/is a superstar. Since then, he has managed to play in 264 of 486 games (54%). That’s not good. The man just hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

When he is healthy, the guy can be the best shortstop in baseball. He’s a career .299 hitter and in a 162 game average, hits 30 HRs with 102 RBI. That’s fantastic!

But Tulo just can’t seem to avoid the disabled list.

Here is the best case scenario for both Tulo and the Rockies this season: Tulo goes off in April, May, and June and people think he is back. He is regarded as an elite shortstop once again. And then, boom. Rockies FINALLY have to trade him. I can’t believe they have hung onto Tulo and CarGo this long. Yes, they are good players, but they won’t ever win anything with them. Hopefully for everyone, he produces, he’s traded, the Rockies get a ton of prospects, and his new (presumably playoff-contending) team gets a player that can help them get to the next step. Everyone wins!

Most To Prove – Charlie Blackmon

Blackmon was a 2nd round pick by the Rockies back in 2008. During his six seasons in the minors, he tore it up. He was a career .309 with a .376 OBP. While he has never been much of a power hitter, his batting average and on-base percentage are extremely promising.

At the age of 27, Blackmon was able to enjoy his first full season as a starter in Colorado. He didn’t disappoint, going on to hit .288 with 19 HR, 72 RBI, 27 doubles, 28 stolen bases, and a .335 OBP. Those are awesome number for a leadoff hitter.

But I hate to be little Debbie Downer here, but let me feed you this information. At home, in 77 games, Blackmon hit .331 with 13 HR, 48 RBI, 15 doubles, 19 stolen bases, and had a .391 OBP. On the road, in 77 games, he hit .241 with six HR, 24 RBI, 12 doubles, nine stolen bases, and had a .269 OBP. I mean, that’s just night and day. That’s how it is for almost every Rockies’ hitter. First off, can Blackmon repeat his 2014 performance? Secondly, will he able able to improve on his road numbers? It will be interesting to see.

2015 Impact Prospect – Jon Gray

With an injury to Jorge De La Rosa and the recent cut of Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies top prospect Jon Gray has a great chance to make the Opening Day rotation. He was the 3rd overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Rockies out of the University of Oklahoma. Baseball Prospectus has him entering this season as the 13th best prospect in the game.

He pitched all of last season in Double-A, posting a 10-5 record with a 3.91 ERA in 24 starts. While his ERA wasn’t dazzling, scouts are still very high on the guy. He has a “mid-to-upper-90s fastball, wipeout slider and developing changeup”.2. He is said to have great movement on his pitches, but his slider is said to be his go-to.

If he has the chance to pitch for Colorado this season, which he should, it will be interesting to see how he settles in at Coors Field. Many pitchers have had a tough time pitching there, but Gray is one of the better pitching prospects the Rockies have seen in awhile.

Why They’re Worth Watching

The Rockies’ offense is always worth watching when playing at home. They put up a ton of runs at Coors Field and it’s always a pleasure to watch Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. They also have Justin Morneau, Charlie Blackmon, and Nolan Arenado in that potent lineup. If healthy, this team shouldn’t have a problem putting up runs. Their pitching might (and probably will) underperform, but it’s not always half-bad to watch a slugfest.

Best Case

Health and their pitching staff will completely determine this team’s fate. Like I have mentioned many times earlier, if Tulo and CarGo can remain healthy, this team should be able to win some ball games. If Morneau, Blackmon, and Arenado continue their recent success, they will win even more ball games. And if their pitching staff somehow surprises everyone and can at least be average, they might have an outside shot at the postseason. 87-75

Worst Case

Unfortunately, I don’t see many of the things I mentioned above actually happening. Sure, CarGo will probably put in a full healthy season, but there are just too many questions marks around Tulowitzki, as always. The rest of the lineup should produce, but their pitching staff is brutal. They finished dead last in baseball in ERA last season at 4.84 and I really don’t see much improvement from that number. 64-98

Projected Record – 70-92


  1. Carlos Gonzalez Injury via The Denver Post 

  2. Purple Row via SB Nation 

About the author: Jack Conness

Graduate of UW-Milwaukee. Baseball nerd. Follow him on Twitter! @JackConness