Colorado Rockies Predictions
Things have not gone the Rockies way since they last made the playoffs back in 2009. Colorado won 92 games that year before being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Phillies. Their win total has dropped in every season since and they hit rock bottom in 2012. Colorado finished last in the NL West with a 64-98 overall record. Only the Cubs and Astros finished with worse record in all of baseball. There’s reason to believe this team will make some improvements in 2013, but there’s little hope of this team turning it around enough to get back to the postseason. Here’s a quick look at Colorado’s projected rotation, bullpen and lineup, plus my predictions on where they finish the year inside the division.
Projected Starting Rotation
Jhoulys Chacin (R) – Chacin took a step back in 2012. He went just 3-5 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over 15 starts. Colorado still believes that when healthy he’s one of the better pitchers in the NL. Now its up to him to prove them right. Chacin had posted an ERA under 3.65 and WHIP below 1.32 the previous two seasons, so there’s reason to be optimistic.
Jorge De La Rosa (L) – The Rockies are hoping that De La Rosa is ready to step back in the rotation and pitch like the guy who won 16 games back in 2009. That was the last and only season De La Rosa has been able to make 30 starts in a single season. He’s made just 33 over the last three years due to Tommy John surgery. He’s got the potential to win 10+ games, but the focus right now is just keeping him off the DL.
Drew Pomeranz (L) – Pomeranz went just 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 22 starts last year. Not exactly what the Rockies were expecting when they acquired him in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, but the kid just turned 24 and there’s still time for him to live up to the potential that was given to him in the minors.
Juan Nicasio (R) – Nicasio’s not had much luck when it comes to staying healthy. Fluke injuries have allowed him to make just 24 starts over his first two seasons in the big leagues. When he’s been able to take the mound he’s shown some flashes of being a legit starter. He’s 6-7 with a career ERA of 4.65 and WHIP of 1.43. This could be the year the youngster (26-years-old) has that breakout season the Rockies have been waiting for.
Jeff Francis (L) – The one positive for Francis is that he’s made at least 24 starts in six of the last seven seasons. Unfortunately he doesn’t offer much in terms of helping this team win. He’s got a grand total of 20 wins in 98 starts over the past four seasons. Only once during that stretch has he posted an ERA under 5.00 and that was a lofty 4.82 ERA in his lone season with the Royals. If the guys above him stay healthy, I can’t see him staying in the rotation if he continues to produce at that level.
The only good thing you can say about the Rockies bullpen is closer Rafael Betancourt did an outstanding job when given a chance in 2012. Betancourt saved nearly half of the teams wins (31) with an ERA of 2.81. To give you an idea of how bad the rest of the relievers were, the overall ERA of the bullpen was 4.52. Some of that was a result of starters not being able to go deep in games and this unit wearing down, but that doesn’t figure to change a whole lot in 2013. The numbers might get better, but that’s not hard to do after last year’s performance and it won’t be by much.
Dexter Fowler (CF) – Fowler was previously known for just being a solid defender with some good speed, but he provided more than that in 2012. The youngster had a career-year at the plate, hitting .301 with a .381 OBP. He also set career-best with 13 homers and 53 RBI, while continuing to rack up triples. He had 11 last year and has totaled 50 over the last four seasons.
Josh Rutledge (2B) – The one good thing that came from Tulowitzki’s injury-plagued season was it allowed the Rockies to get a long look at Rutledge. He stepped up to the plate and performed better than expected, hitting .274 with 8 homers 37 RBI, five triples and 7 steals in just 73 games. He impressed enough that the Rockies plan on moving him over to second to keep him in the starting lineup.
Carlos Gonzalez (LF) – Gonzalez did what he could to keep the Rockies competitive, but overall his numbers took a hit without Tulowitzki hitting behind him on a regular basis. He still finished up with a .303 average with 22 homers, 85 RBI and 20 steals. It would have been a great season had he not set the bar so high in 2010, when he hit .336 with 34 homers, 117 RBI and 26 steals.
Troy Tulowitzki (SS) – A groin injury forced Tulowitzki to miss the final 113 games of 2012 and there’s no question not having him in the lineup played a role in the team winning just 64 games. When healthy he’s the best shortstop in the game. He had hit at least .297 with 27 homers and 92 RBI over the previous three seasons. The 28-year-old is now in the prime of his career and could be ready for an MVP-like season in 2013. Unfortunately the Rockies likely won’t win enough games for him to even be considered.
Michael Cuddyer (RF) – Cuddyer was expected to put up big numbers in his first season with the Rockies, but injuries kept the veteran outfielder from living up that potential. On the bright side, he produced when healthy, hitting .260 with 16 homers and 58 RBI over 101 games. A lot more is expected out of Cuddyer in 2013.
Todd Helton (1B) – Helton’s 2013 campaign will be his last. The future Hall of Famer will hang up the cleats at the end of the year. Hopefully he’ll be able to help this team more than he did in 2012. Helton hit just .238 with 7 homers and 37 RBI in a mere 69 games. He’s still capable of hitting for a decent average with a solid on-base percentage, but all that will depend on if his brittle old body can avoid serious injury.
Wilin Rosario (C) – One of the big positives from last year was the emergence of Rosario at the plate. He hit .270 with 28 homers and 71 RBI over just 117 games and the kid turned just 24 in February. He”s got the talent to be one of the best hitting catchers in the game, unfortunately he’s one of the worst defensive catchers and will likely have to move to another position in the near future.
Chris Nelson (3B) – Nelson is expected to open the season as the starter at third, but he’s going to have to produce if he wants to avoid taking a seat to either Jordan Pacheco or Nolan Arenado. He hit .301 with 9 homers and 53 RBI over 111 games last season, but he’s known more for his defense and most scouts don’t believe the offensive production will last.
Odds to Win the World Series: +12,500
Odds to win the NL Pennant: +5,000
Odds to win the NL West: +2,150
Getting Tulowitzki back healthy will have a big impact on this team’s ability to stay competitive and improve on last year’s record. It’s not like the offense was horrible without him. You simply can’t win on a consistent basis with a pitching staff that can’t get the other team out. The Rockies will likely go on some decent runs when the offense is clicking, but unless the starting rotation greatly exceeds expectations this team won’t be a factor in the division. The safe bet heading into the season is to pick the Rockies to finish last in the NL West.
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