The Colorado Rockies finished the 2015 campaign with a record of 68-94, marking the fifth season in a row that the Rockies have not finished the year with more than 74 wins. It is becoming increasingly clear that baseball fans throughout Colorado are growing restless with the performance, along with the team’s direction of for the coming years. Colorado has been a club since 1993, and has only made the playoffs three times, with their last appearance coming in 2009 with a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. The Rockies do have one World Series appearance, but were swept in 2007 by the Boston Red Sox.
Colorado certainly has the bats to compete, finishing in the top-seven of all major offensive categories last season. Unfortunately, the pitching is just not there, and the organization seems none too worried about bolstering the rotation anytime soon. Last season, the team traded away coveted shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, in return for shortstop Jose Reyes and three prospects, pitcher Jeff Hoffman, pitcher Miguel Castro, and pitcher Jesus Tinoco. Hoffman was the ninth overall selection back in 2014, while Castro and Tinoco were signed in 2011 as international free agents.
The Rockies have an abundance of young pitching in the minors, but time will tell whether or not these prospects will be future studs in the league. Pitchers like Eddie Butler, David Hale, Yohan Flande, and Tyler Matzek all spent time with the big-league club last season, with ERAs north of 4.00. Nothing points to any of these pitching prospects taking the reins in Colorado anytime soon. Top prospect Jeff Hoffman, will start the season in Double-A New Britain, and could be up with the big-league club by the All-Star break. Hoffman posted a 3.03 ERA in 104.0 IP last season and is 49th on MLB.com’s top-100 prospects list. Jon Gray, who will start the season with the Rockies, was drafted third overall back in 2013 with sights on being the future ace. This year will be his first full season with Colorado. Gray shows great potential and ability to be the pitcher that the Rockies have be looking for since the franchise’s inception.
As for hitting prospects, shortstop Brendan Rodgers, who was drafted third overall last season by the Rockies leads the way, however, he likely won’t see time with the big-league club until 2018 at the earliest. The Rockies have middle infield prospect, Trevor Story and catching prospect, Tom Murphy who both will see time with the Major League club, some point in 2016. In 130 games last season for Double-A and Triple-A, Story hit .279/.350./.514 accounting for 20 home runs and 80 runs batted in. Murphy hit well in 105 games in Double-A and Triple-A, with a slash line of .256/.314/.490, 20 home runs, and 68 runs batted in. Murphy also appeared in 11 games for the Rockies in 2015, hitting .257 during his brief appearance. Look for both, Story and Murphy to make an impact later in the season for the Rockies in 2016.
Colorado’s farm system ranks 12th according to BleacherReport.com’s, Joel Reuter.
Key Offseason Acquisitions:
- Signing outfielder Gerardo Parra to a three-year/$27.5 million contract.
Parra chose a good season to perform at a career-high level. In 2015, Parra hit .291/.328/.452 adding a career-high 14 home runs and 51 runs batted in. Parra played for the Milwaukee Brewers before getting traded to the Baltimore Orioles at the deadline.
- Acquired relief pitcher Jake McGee from the Tampa Bay Rays.
McGee was a good add for the Rockies, and will likely be the man they hand the ball to in the ninth inning. McGee had a good six years in Tampa, posting a career 2.77 ERA with a K/9 of 11.1. The over powering lefty will bring tenacity to the Colorado bullpen to lock up victories in the upcoming season.
Motte signed a two-year/$10 million deal and Qualls signed a two-year/$6 million deal. Both bring former closer experience and leadership to the bull-pen, Motte hasn’t been the same since his 42-save season in 2012, that led to him requiring Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2013. He posted a 4.68 ERA in 2014 and a 3.98 ERA in 2015. Qualls is a 12-year veteran and has 74 career saves with a career ERA of 3.80. Colorado will be Qualls’ ninth stop in only 13 big-league seasons.
Key Off-Season Departures
- Traded outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Colorado traded Dickerson to the Rays for relief pitcher Jake McGee and prospects. Dickerson broke out in his sophomore campaign when he hit .312/.364/.567 with 24 home runs and 76 runs batted in. In 2015, he dealt with an ailing foot most of the season which limited him to only 65 games.
- Relief pitcher John Axford joins the Oakland Athletics on a two-year/$10 million deal.
Last season, Axford served as the team’s closer posting 25 saves with an ERA of 4.20.
- First baseman/catcher Wilin Rosario signed a one-year/$1.3 million contract with the Hanwha Eagles of Japan.
Rosario had a career average of .273 with Colorado, and combined for 71 home runs and 241 runs batted in. Rosario played for five seasons in the MLB before leaving for Japan in 2016.
Colorado is led by All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman, Nolan Arenado. Arenado posted a career season in 2015, hitting .287/.323/.575 with 42 home runs and 130 runs batted in. He also scored 97 runs. Arenado is accompanied by outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon along with second baseman, DJ LeMahieu and shortstop Jose Reyes.
Here is the 2016 Colorado Rockies projected starting batting order, according to RosterResource.com, with 2015 statistics:
- CF Charlie Blackmon .287/.347/.450, / 93 R/ 17 HR/ 43 SB
- SS Jose Reyes .274/.310/.378, /57 R/ 53 RBI/ 24 SB
- RF Carlos Gonzalez .271/.325/.540, / 40 HR/ 97 RBI
- 3B Nolan Arenado .287/.323/.575, / 97 R /42 HR /130 RBI
- LF Gerardo Parra .291/.328/.452, / 83 R / 14 HR / 14 SB
- 2B DJ LeMahieu .301/.358/.388, / 85 R / 61 RBI / 23 SB
- 1B Ben Paulsen .277/.326/.462, / 11 HR / 49 RBI
- C Nick Hundley .301/.339/.467, / 45 R / 43 RBI
The Rockies’ starting staff, which ranked last in the league in 2015, is struggling to find its composure and is likely in for another sub-par season in the thin air of Coors Field. Starting pitchers for the Rockies last season had an ERA of 5.27 and allowed 984 hits in 857.2 innings.
Here is the 2016 Colorado Rockies projected starting rotation, according to RosterResource.com:
- Jorge De La Rosa, (9-7, 4.17 ERA)
- Chad Bettis, (8-6, 4.23 ERA)
- Jordan Lyles, (2-5, 5.14 ERA)
- Jon Gray, (0-2, 5.53 ERA)
- Tyler Chatwood, ( DNP ) *Tommy John surgery*
The bullpen in Colorado has potential, as it is full of veteran experience. With the Jake McGee anchoring things, the ‘pen is a lot more promising than the starting staff. If the Rockies can keep the lead heading into the eighth and ninth innings, fans should be confident to secure a victory.
Here is the 2016 Colorado Rockies projected bullpen, according to RosterResource.com:
- CP Jake McGee, (2.41 ERA, 6 saves)
- SU Jason Motte, (3.91 ERA)
- SU Adam Ottavino, (10.1 IP, 0.00 ERA) *Tommy John surgery projected back by All-Star break*
- MR Boone Logan, (4.33 ERA, 23 holds)
- MR Chad Qualls, (4.38 ERA)
- MR Jairo Diaz, (2.37 ERA)
- LR Chris Rusin, (5-10, 5.62 ERA)
The Colorado Rockies are entering the 2016 season with little hope, especially in the competitive, NL West that features teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks. With this all being said, it looks like the Rockies are on their way to another losing record, as well as another last-place finish. If this team wants to be back in contention for the playoffs, they must find a way to develop competent power pitching that can thrive in the Mile High City.
Prediction for this upcoming season: 70-92, 5th place in NL West.