On Tuesday, SportsOnEarth.com put it out its “wish list” of what all of the 15 National League teams should be shopping for this offseason. Of course, the Colorado Rockies were included in the article … but the main need the writer saw for the Rockies was different than some of the roster deficits we have been discussing for weeks.
The article, which you can view by clicking here, said that the Rockies needed a front-end starter in 2017. Here’s what SportsOnEarth.com had to say…
Strong rookie showings this past season from top prospects Trevor Story, David Dahl, Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson have given the Rockies a genuine sense of optimism heading in the 2017 season. With youngsters Tommy Murphy and Jordan Patterson ready to take over at catcher and first base, respectively, for free agents Nick Hundley and Mark Reynolds, the Rockies’ lineup appears to be in good shape. Gray and Anderson provide muted optimism for the rotation, as well, but it would greatly benefit both pitchers, and the team in general, if Colorado brought in a veteran to anchor the rotation to take the pressure off those two in their sophomore season by providing both stability and a reliable source of quality starts.
Of course, there are a couple of things that raise some eyebrows in the article’s assessment of the Rockies. First, I’m not sure that Patterson is being viewed as the complete answer at first base for the 2017 season. If he was, speculation on Matt Holliday, Mike Napoli, Chris Carter and the return of Reynolds at first base would be a dull buzz rather than the loud roar it is.
Second is the question about the strength and viability of the Colorado rotation. Obviously Gray and Anderson both took major steps in 2016 but they aren’t the only starters coming back after solid seasons. Tyler Chatwood had a historic season on the mound away from Coors Field and Chad Bettis had flashes of brilliance during 2016, particularly in five September starts that saw his ERA for the month at 3.03.
Bettis had one of the most impressive outings at Coors Field last year, scattering two hits over nine shutout innings in a Labor Day win over San Francisco. It was the highlight of a roller coaster season that had Bettis projecting up at the end of the campaign.
Gray, Bettis, Chatwood and Anderson combined to post a 4.28 ERA last season for the Rockies. As a staff, Colorado starters produced a 4.79 ERA, placing the team tied for 25th in Major League Baseball. Put just the foursome’s ERA in the rankings and Colorado jumps to 12th.
Do the Rockies need a “veteran pitcher” to be the anchor of the rotation? Certainly no one ever turns down good pitching … but is that really where the Rockies need to be focusing their attention? Edinson Volquez just signed a two-year, $22 million contract with Miami. It’s a sign of the market as quality arms are going to go for a hefty price, whether they’re starting or coming out of the bullpen.
In fact, the bullpen is where the Rockies need more help than up front. A four-man rotation featuring Gray, Anderson, Chatwood and Bettis has many more positives than negatives to it. Let them work five or six innings (at least) and then turn it over to a bullpen that can hold a lead. It’s a recipe for success that has worked for several other MLB clubs. However, it’s a luxury the Rockies haven’t had in recent seasons. That will hopefully change in 2017.
Investing in the bullpen makes more sense than bringing a high-priced arm as a starter. In this article, we detailed how Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez could be bright spots for the Rockies in the bullpen this season. Certainly, they could also provide a spot start if needed.
Even with the Rockies re-signing Jordan Lyles on Wednesday, Colorado’s bullpen is an enigma at the moment. Can Jake McGee, Chad Qualls and Jason Motte come back from injuries and be a positive in relief this season? How will Jairo Diaz come back after losing a season to surgery? Can Adam Ottavino be the dominant closer the Rockies so desperately need?
There are a lot of questions around pitching at the moment. However, they focus more on the bullpen than the starting rotation. If Colorado management is going to open up the wallet as has been rumored, here’s hoping the Rockies focus on relievers and let their young rotation continue to grow and gel together.