Opening Day is around the corner and the Colorado Rockies aren’t projected to matter this season. Having finished in last place the last two seasons, the Rockies appear to again be everything that they are. But what if I were to tell you that the Colorado Rockies will enter September of this season fighting for an NL West crown? What if I were to tell you that the most overlooked team in the NL West is about to become the most dangerous? Now don’t get me wrong, the Dodgers are poised to walk into the playoffs with the NL Crown this season. After all, they’ve got the best arm and a talented outfielder that is second only to Mike Trout in ability. But, I’m about to give you three reasons why the Colorado Rockies will be pushing LA for the NL crown come September. And in case you were wondering, I am feeling a wee bit bold this evening.
1) Troy Tulowitzki. Is there any other shortstop in baseball that is as good as a healthy Troy Tulowtizki? With power to all fields, years of plate experience, athleticism and range to not only get around the bases, but to field as well, Troy Tulowitzki is the last of the five-tool breed shortstops. Now I know that Colorado’s perennial all-star is prone to an injury or two and should be projected by all fantasy “baseballers” to spend some time on the DL, but I’m going out on a limb today and saying Tulo plays a full season. With Tulo in the lineup day in and day out, the Colorado Rockies offense is a different beast, especially at home. A healthy Tulo is also a dangerous Tulo, and a dangerous Tulo contends for the NL MVP this season.
2) Starting Pitching. Okay the Colorado Rockies spent the majority of their 2013 campaign looking for any sort of consistency from their starting pitchers. Unfortunately, the only thing Rockies fans could bank on was a five-inning outing and a lot of workload put onto a subpar bullpen. That’s no recipe for victory, and when the offense lost its identity at the All-Star break, the wheels came off the 2013 season. But that was a learning curve for Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, and Juan Nicasio. By season’s end, these three had found a rhythm. The addition of Brett Anderson and Jordan Lyles, coupled with prospects Jonathon Gray and Eddie Butler make the Colorado Rockies rich in something they haven’t been in in years…pitching. Which brings me to that contention for the NL West crown this season. Jorge De La Rosa, Chacin, Chatwood, and Nicasio all win at least 12 games this year. And the bullpen? They’ve added Boone Logan and LaTroy Hawkins. Deeper starts, less work on the middle relievers, Logan and Hawkins to sure up the back end and the Colorado Rockies close out the games they are supposed to, and steal a couple they weren’t.
3) Wilin Rosario. Everyone expects things from Tulo, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and even the new addition Justin Morneau. Cargo, when healthy, is every bit as dangerous at the plate as Tulo. Cuddyer, coming off a career-best season won’t duplicate his 2013 numbers, but everyone will be looking for them; and Morneau? I don’t quite know what to expect out of J-Mor this season. A classic Rockies tactic bringing in a player on the tail-end of his career hoping to steal a little magic out of them. The real surprise that will come out of Colorado this season won’t be the big name hitters and it won’t be the arms in the bullpen, it’ll be Wilin Rosario. In my opinion, Rosario is Colorado’s best kept secret, and I’m expecting the twenty-four-year-old to have a coming out party this year. He’ll have a slow start to the season as he gets more big league plate appearances, after all he’s only had 122 career at-bats. But come the dog days of summer, when team’s are looking for a spark to propel them into the playoffs, look for Wilin Rosario to become Colorado’s. The kid’s got pop in his bat and will utilize the green pastures at Coors to rack up plenty of extra-base hits. Some of which that will come in clutch moments in late August and September.
There’s a lot of excitement about the Colorado Rockies future. The front-office, much maligned by many, myself included, finally seems to be investing in success and not just hoping for another miracle like in 2009. A trend the loyal fans of Denver have been waiting for for a while now, and deserve. And while many aren’t looking at the Colorado Rockies as much of anything this season, I see the potential for something special. So when September rolls around and those Colorado Rockies are knocking on the door for the division lead, look at how healthy Troy Tulowitzki plays; look at how many quality starts the Rox get out of their rotation; and look for Wilin Rosario.